Yep, I said it. Screw coffee. I’m giving up coffee.
I got ill last week, a stomach bug whose ass I’m still struggling to kick. At first I stuck on a brave face, soldiered on, kept calm, carried on and all that bullshit. However, the stiff upper lip approach to personal health simply resulted in further pain and discomfort, by Thursday last week I felt like food was my sworn enemy. Particularly noticeable were the severe stomach cramps, experienced precisely when I imbibed my luscious, thick black morning coffee. The part of the day which I longed for each morning, I dreamed lucidly of it’s inception and felt bereft when it’s time had passed. That poignant moment, when coffee cup hit desk, computer chimed into convivial companionship and the day was ready, had become a time of anguish and pain.
There was only one option, stop drinking coffee, which would stop the stomach cramps. I’d struggled to drain my cup each day, due to the pain, so I was half way to cessation by all accounts.
Friday. No coffee.
My head descended into a furious fug of caffeine withdrawal, with dull cranial twinges sparkling away like bubblewrap being stamped on in my brain. This continued all day as the neurons in my head all bumped into each other like high speed road traffic accidents, desperately seeking out a few precious particles of caffeine. This genuine physical pain from not having coffee continued for 3 days. During this time I considered other ways of getting caffeine into my bloodstream to relieve the pain without causing yet more pain, but there was no answer. It was pain or pain.
I took to twitter to express my discomfort and the general advice was ‘you idiot’ and ‘tried it myself, never again’. Highly supportive, as usual. My thoughts started turning to the big picture, the long game. What’s the point of enduring this cold turkey withdrawal, if I’m just going to start back on the coffee next week? Why not take advantage of this suffering to unhook my caffeine dependence?
This precipitated yet another bout of pain, this time revolving around mental anguish. Any kind of stimulant such as alcohol, caffeine, cocaine etc is not actually conducive to good work, despite some great people having created great work whilst off their heads, stimulants are not helpful for the day to day grind. Seriously, even coffee is not actually beneficial, unless you’re tired or worn out. It simply works like a sticking plaster for your existence, coffee is the quick fix for your wounded consciousness.
Dramatic? Well, maybe.
However, it’s true, coffee is great when you wake up tired, hungover and in need of something to pick you up. It’s great when you’re exhausted and fatigued from working too late. It’s there to wake you up, which is different from making you work better.
Giving up coffee is good for creativity.
There have been recent rumblings about the way coffee blunts creativity, because the precise reasons we drink it, for alertness and focus, restrict our creative thought processes. I pride myself in the pursuit of creative work, it’s my aim in life, to find more creative channels to work in. Every day when I get my desperate caffeine fix, following that hallowed ritual of mug being filled with rich black elixir, I also feel my brain perform a minor twerk. It suddenly starts jittering and vibrating. Too much caffeine and I would really struggle to focus on anything, it’s happened many times. My head goes wibbly and light, almost dizzy. I get all jittery, sometimes even the slight ‘impending doom’ feeling alongside it.
The evidence is piling up.
Looking at it like that, being forced to relinquish my dependence on caffeine doesn’t sound like a bad thing. Coffee is worn like a badge of honour, people pride themselves in their coffee, I know I did, but it’s like a diversion away from things that matter, another piece of obsessive focussing on the technicalities of life. Why should I put so much effort into making my coffee great, when I could be putting more effort into making myself great? Being dependent on coffee isn’t beneficial to my work. Spending 10 minutes each morning making a coffee doesn’t enrich my life. Drinking coffee isn’t beneficial to my creative thought processes. Add these all up and it looks like I’ve just talked myself into giving up coffee.