My eyes are burning. I feel a dry taste in my mouth. A taste that has no layers. Like a thin metal plate between my tongue and my neck.
I urge for a coffee. I need something strong to wash this feeling away. This stupid sensation of defeat.
Few hours and cups later, I’m craving for a beer to ease everything down.
That’s the routine.
Scenarios? Rough nights, emotional break-ups, career break-ups, long trips, workload, emotional load, physical load, a not too comfy spot to sleep in the forest, changing houses, changing cities, changing countries. Sometimes all of this together. That has been pretty much it for the last 4 years.
Caffeine has been a constant, a sublimated way of drug consumption. I even got a job in the coffee industry and became some kind of coffee sommelier.
I loved coffee and beer since the first sip. They both had a strong body, a deep taste; bitter more than sweet, inspiring more than dull, and both are great to combine with my favourite meals: breakfast and dinner. Soft drinks were always too sweet, like a subtle insult for being a child. Coffee and beer came as a liberation from the stupidity and dullness of the general concept of “food for kids”.
I loved also the effects they gave me: the gong call waking up my body of caffeine, and the fresh smooth transition into a more lose world of the beer.
The last 4 years were a different thing, it has been more an abuse than the pleasure attached to those early years.
I knew I needed a stop. Take a break.
Somehow those drugs ended up to being more related to an overwhelming routine; boosted by the digital life, more than anything else.
I was thinking of escaping to a hub in the Alps: books, climbing, snowboarding, drawing, no coffee, no beer; just letting my body feel tired, and getting excited by the sole idea of a climb or a ride. Breaking the routine, hacking the system, rejecting productivity as the main and only logic. Create a thick line between motivation, 'will', power and just being high as a comet on caffeine, or chill after a few cold ones.
Then Coronavid-19 arrived, and the lock down with it.
My new house, and its South faced balcony looked like a good cheap alternative to the mountains.
On Monday 16th of March I quit caffeine and alcohol. For two weeks.
The mental step was the bigger one: am I’m gonna be able to do it? Can I cope with my normal workload? What about my own expectations about my work? what if I become a dull impossible-to-get-stoked person?
First day I didn’t shiver, or have a massive cold turkey feeling a la Trainspotting.
Now few notes about coffee:
Humans noticed and decided to get high as a goat.
Coffee, if you don’t know, comes from Yemen/Ethiopia. Goats used to eat the berries from a bush and go raving the whole night. Humans noticed and decided to get high as a goat. Coffee traveled to America, then back to Europe. Aristocrats loved it. Italians decided to make a national drink out of it. They brought it to the US. Americans incorporated as a staple to keep productivity up, son, and the whole idea of a hard-working nation.
I’d love to link it somehow back to the Industrial Revolution. But the Brits were mainly on tea 24/7, so no chance.
A few decades after that, coffee is the fuel of a western culture obsessed with productivity (measured by old simplistic parameters), money, and success (also measured by old simplistic parameters), and you and I are part of it.
When first Friday arrived, and it was really challenging to avoid the beers, let alone Saturday night. I told my self to shut-up and remembering why I was doing that: hack a habit, reflect on given rules, heal from a regular overflow.
During the second week, an inner rhythm got exposed. A rhythm that didn’t allow much of the classic bullshit solos that we normally dance to.
There was no “oh man, I need another coffee for this”. This had to be properly defined. Need had to be re-considered. And the problem as a whole had to be solved from a more deep and better thought perspective.
I was waiting for the time of blasting some loud music arrived. Celebrating with a cup of coffee in one hand and a beer in the other one, dancing in the living room.
The shocking reality was: I didn’t want to go back to normal. I decided to go for it anyways, and open the downer required for a Friday afternoon.
I put a vinyl on, and sat outside faced to the last sun rays, guacamole and chips on the table.
Everything was about that beer. And in fact, it tasted like shit. Due to some problems, the crafted, small company produced Berliner beer was without bubbles. Damm boy, what a bummer!
I cracked open another one and enjoyed.
No angels came singing, I didn’t feel younger, fresher. The ocean didn’t splash on my face, or the face of El Capitan didn’t raise above the horizon.
I love the taste, but the cold sensation on the forehead, and the feeling of my body transforming into copper didn’t please me that much. It was nothing close to the pristine first experience. That is why pristine comes hand-in-hand with unexplored, curiosity-fuelled concepts and places.
I didn’t drink coffee on Saturday either. Sunday arrived with its nice breakfast, and a good Colombian coffee from local roasters. Oh, I do love that taste: chocolate, nuts, light lactic acidity. That was more of an experience.
Then the pressure from within came. Caffeine was kicking. Not hard. I never have felt it hard. But it was there, like a good old wino in the park, doing it's thing as you start to tingle.
I spent the evening reading and drawing. Then cooking.
Levels of energy were the same, just more inner pressure.
Then, I skip coffee on Monday too.
What I was missing in general was deeper experiences. Those pristine moments.
Uppers and downers somehow had become what kept me in the upper layer of fucking everything. My life, aspirations, needs, relationships. Digging deep is an option that always goes beyond any drug consumption: requiring time, attention and a lot of honesty. Like a good chat. Then drugs can boost it.
I’m not planning to quit coffee or beer. I loathe the self-restriction that transforms itself in some kind of cheap morale, jerking advises for everyone all around. (Exception from health issues, where self-restriction has to do with improving well-being).
Like any drug, is the mood the one ruling the experience? That experience was once pristine because back then, I was a young gun exploring the world. Fascination was the general status.
The real challenge was defeating the fear of being less productive. Having your brain constantly switched on and killing the monster that always needs more to maintain.
If you change the rhythm, some time after, the whole tune might follow.
Stay healthy, stay stoked,
Kike Molares & the Team