Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Morning Tea and a Conversation about Containers by Stephanie Durnford

photo by Stephanie Durnford
 {A note from Beth: from May through August 2015, I am featuring some delicious guest writers here on the blog as I recover from pregnancy and birth and adjust to our new family rhythms (find more details here).  Enjoy!}

I'm sitting here, with my cup of tea and bottle of water. It's 6:30 in the morning. I wonder what you're doing right now, as topics and blankness run through my head. . I pick up my tea, cupping it with both hands for just a moment; feeling the warmth in the my hand, I inhale deeply.

Vanilla. Honey. Other herbs I cannot name nor distinguish in the steam rising from the cup.

The heat becomes a bit too stinging on a new paper cut from work yesterday, so I take a sip and set it down. What might I say to you, if we were having tea together this morning?

I would laugh, tell you how desperately I want a cup of coffee first thing, instead of this herbal tea and bottle of water. You'd ask me why I don't just make that, instead.

I'd get a far away look in my eye, the only way I have sometimes of telling the truth without fully disappearing, without it being like talking about another person. I'd tell you that I've spent a fair amount of the last few decades wandering around mindlessly, that there have been (undiagnosed) health consequences, and that I don't want to them to get worse. I would tell you how uncomfortable I've been feeling in my skin, in my creativity, and while a single cup of tea and bottle water of won't change either of those - especially overnight - it's part of a larger shift I'm noticing taking place.

You'd take a sip of your tea, poke my arm, and ask me, "Vague, much?"

My eyes would focus back on the table between us and I'd pick up my own tea and take a sip, noticing that I'm almost done with it -- that much closer to coffee! -- and I take a small sip of water. I'm clearly using these moments of pause to think. I sigh, knowing that this isn't fully formed, but it's been tickling the edges of my thoughts. I ask if you'd indulge me some rambling. You take your tea in hand and smile. (This is not unusual for our conversations, and I know that I am blessed with your friendship.)

I think it started with #continuouspractice, the stacking up of days like cords of wood, showing up day after most every other day; 142 of them at this conversation. That there is something about setting a container that allows me to find my way back to what matters. Knowing that there is 20 minutes I will show up and just put pen to paper, that there is a community around me doing the same, and that I can do this hard thing. (Anyone who tells you that showing up every day is easy is trying to sell you something.)
Don't get me wrong. There are days it is easy; there are days it's like pulling teeth. Sometimes, those turn into the days that pass me by without thinking, in too much of a frenzy of busyness or the lull of mindlessness to sit down for 20 minutes.

I've learned that showing up to a space, for 20 minutes, where there are no expectations except to put pen to paper has its refreshing qualities. There have been snippets of fiction, lots of meandering, but mostly? Space to show up. Space to be honest. #continuouspractice has become the container that puts boundaries around the space, but that space is freedom.

It's given me a bit of taste for that kind of discipline -- creating a space full of gentleness to see what could be possible. There are new containers I'm creating in my life, to see what the freedom within them feels like, if it works. I'm trying to see it as playful, rather than our traditional understanding of discipline. What possibilities are there waiting for me?

This includes starting with tea and my bottle of water, rather than straight to coffee. What might be possible for my health, for feeling more settled as I start my morning, instead of buzzing with caffeine?

I pause and take a sip, noticing I've finished my tea. You smile, taking a sip from your own cup. I look at you, tilting my head as I do when I have a question.

What container(s) do you have for your own possibilities?  

Stephanie is a (infrequent) blogger at Visible and Real. She believes in the power of stories, hot tea and coffee, writing, reading, and breathing into the hard parts. Somewhere on the east coast, she is a writer, an explorer, a student, a wife, and mama to four squeaking guinea pigs. 


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― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King