I don't like coffee. The taste specifically. I do, however, love the smell of coffee. In fact, I have some warm memories associated with smelling coffee. Saturday morning breakfast at McDonalds (both as an employee-yes, my first job was at McDonalds at 14 and I loved it- and as a consumer with my Dad and siblings before working together at the store he manages). Window shopping during the holidays sipping a Peppermint Mocha from Starbucks (not too much, if any, coffee in that). Fellowship hour after church. Chatting with friends on big couches. My first date with my husband (who doesn't like coffee either). Meeting new colleagues. Networking. Business meetings with my coaching business partner. Spending time with friends and family.
I think Starbucks has an odd way of bringing people together in a non-threatening sort of way. The other day I was walking into Starbucks for some meetings with new colleagues to discuss our practices, goals, and experiences when I ran into an old college friend. Once I arrived inside to meet my colleague, I saw my brother-in-law meeting with his video production company business partners at a nearby table. Out of all of the Starbucks in my county, we all chose this one at the same time.
Every time I am in Starbucks or reflect upon a recent visit, I ponder about all of the good, the bad, the ugly, the cool, and the scary things happening in there. What great projects are being launched? Who is studying for a big test for school? What kind of book is an author writing? What relationships are beginning? What relationships are ending? Who is trying to repair a hurt? Who is trying to resolve an issue? Who is trying to fix problems in a relationship? What great ideas are being discovered? What kinds of relaxation techniques are being used? Is everyone being mindful?
When I would like to meet with colleagues, I usually suggest Starbucks. I find that I can be very mindful and get a lot accomplished and stay relaxed there. I also enjoy thinking up reasons for other people to be there as well. I am not going there for the coffee. I am going there for the people (and some of their yummy drinks and snacks too).
I am reminded of a short story someone once shared with me: The Mayonnaise Jar and Two Cups of Coffee, author unknown. I have included it here.
The Mayonnaise Jar and Two Cups of Coffee
"When things in your lives seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 cups of coffee.
A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.
The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.
The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with an unanimous "yes."
The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.
"Now," said the professor as the laughter subsided, "I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things--your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions--and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.
The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car.
The sand is everything else--the small stuff. "If you put the sand into the jar first," he continued, "there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.
"Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first--the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand."
One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The professor smiled. "I'm glad you asked.
It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend."