Cupcakes or Coffee?
Updated: Nov 23, 2022
The other day, someone asked me a simple question that unexpectedly shifted so much of how I think about my choices and how I go about making my them.
The question: "Which do you love more, cupcakes or coffee?"
As I thought about my response, I found myself delving into unexpected layers of meaning around the two options.
I love cupcakes. I love their sweetness, how fun and whimsical they can look, that they feel like an indulgent treat. I love how playful they can be and the memories I have of childhood that often come back when I think about them. I love the variety of texture of them and how the colored sprinkles or toppings crunch while the frosting is soft and melty all while the cake is spongey and moist. I love that I often eat them during times of celebration when I am with people I care about and in situations that are happy and exciting. I love the moment of surprise that occurs when you realize the cupcake may have a filling and the satisfaction I have at folding up the paper wrapper when I finish. I love that when I eat a cupcake, I feel very present in the moment, relishing the experience and savoring the flavors dancing in my mouth. I love that I see it as a symbol of happiness that has no purpose except pleasure and fun.
I love coffee. I love how I can smell the rich aroma before I taste it, a signal to my brain that I need to be alert so it begins to wake up and tune up my awareness and focus. I love choosing what mug I will use, taking a moment to consider how I feel and what energy I want to bring into my day. I love seeing the steam curl off the surface of the liquid and the feeling of the warmth radiating onto my hand as it's wrapped inside the handle. I love the flavor, with its hint of hazelnut and the knowledge that it's energizing caffeination helps me focus on the task at hand. I love the feeling that it will help me be productive and focused so I can complete the tasks at hand and accomplish my goals. I love that even as it grows cold while I work, taking a sip provides me a moment of brief respite where I am not expected to produce, even as it charges up my mind and body to jump back into the fray. I love that is an almost universal symbol of hard work and that society sees value in what it can offer.
As I thought about how distinctly different my view of these two consumables were, I thought about the choices I make most often in my life and the actions that follow. Choices to be responsible, efficient, helpful, consistent... that are about DOING rather than BEING. My default decision making process is based in coffee and all that it represents to me. While there is nothing wrong with that, it made me realize how much I enjoy those moments that mirror what I experience with cupcakes and how important it is to make those decisions as well.
I don't want life to be either cupcakes or coffee and I'm thankful I don't have to choose just one. What the question made me realize though, is I want to make more cupcake choices in my life and there is no reason that I can't do so. As I thought about what that would look like for me, a random urge arose to get a beta fish. After some quick research about what I'd need to do to take care of one (coffee based actions) I decided that having a colorful little companion who could swim around a playfully decorated home and be an easy way to remind myself to slow down and find simple enjoyment in the present was the perfect first step. So now Cupcake the Beta sits with me in my home office, reminding me regularly that I can just be rather than needing to do.
If you are finding that your decisions are more unbalanced than you'd like, I'd encourage you to explore what some of the reasons for that might be. What messages inform your choices and what values are driving you in your actions? When we understand ourselves better AND then use that knowledge to change our behavior, we often find that we are able to see a lot more of an impact in our lives than when we just do one or the other. Insight and introspection without action can feel enlightening but doesn't change much. Trying to change what we without understanding why we do it and what benefit we get from it is often frustrating and unsustainable. We need to find ways to do both so we can extend ourselves needed compassion while moving towards creating new, healthier patterns in our lives.