Beginner's Heart

holiday tea with grandmother's small tea set2

the author’s

You can’t drink the ‘best’ tea everyday. Or it becomes the everyday tea. (Not to mention it’s expensive!) But this morning, after a friend sent me the New Yorker excerpt of Paul Kalanithi’s autobiography (My Last Day as a Surgeon), I immersed myself in the process of my ‘everyday’ tea. The fragrance of the steam rising from the pot as I lift the strainer of loose leaves to drain. Settling the cosy so it covers the entire base of the teapot. Watching the sugar cube melt as I dip it repeatedly into the cup, so that entire cube isn’t dissolved (too sweet for this tiny cup!). Pouring the milk from the pitcher, and following the swirl of light into darkness.

the author's

the author’s

And it dawned on me: Sundays ~ when I break out the Hao Ya tea ~ I pay no more attention to the tea than any other harried day. Which is such a loss! Today, watching the Fortnum & Mason Jubilee tea send its spiral of fragrance up from the small tea spout, I thought about how often I waste moments. When I could (should!) be paying attention. Reading of how Paul Kalanithi viewed his last surgery, how he draped the cloth, how he methodically stitched skin together I realised: now really is all I have. 

I know…I’ve had this epiphany a hundred times before! But today? In the wake of a couple of deaths of people I love, it’s the more poignant, the more immediate. There are so very many amazing things in each day — Hector the cat stretched out on the desk beside me, basking in the lamp’s gentle heat. Crisp winter air as I let the dogs out. My sister’s visit from out of town. The taste of tea…

So I’m going to try — again! — to pay more attention. To be here, in this very moment, NOW. Watching my arthritic hands type — something they still do well & quickly. Not ignoring the arthritis, but being glad of the nimbleness still working for me. I’m going to really TASTE my tea (which has now grown completely cold…hmmm).

And you? What are you going to pay attention to, today? Knowing that really? It’s only this moment that’s guaranteed.

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