:: WHY WE BE ::

Boo to false, self-imposed limits, we say. These champion oracles want to live enthusiastically. Follow our trip through projects that challenge, frustrate, and/or scare us. In the end (which is really the middle) we want to live like big bright free and authentically awesome people.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

COFFEE: The Insolent Lovechild of Joy and Irritation.

The COFFEE Project. 

What it is: A group of people working on scary and/or challenging projects of their choosing. Here, we'll post updates of our progress (and regress): words, pictures, videos, the like. To read about us and our projects, click on our pictures --> over there.

What you can do: You can laugh, support, and/or commiserate. But it'd be even cooler if you joined us. If you would like to pick a project and be part of the satellite COFFEE community, let us know: (a) your name, (b) what project you're working on, and (c) your blog address. We'll direct readers to your blog in our COMMUNITY section and feature you in periodic COMMUNITY UPDATES.

How it started: COFFEE was born when my (Patresa's) Joy and Profound Irritation collided and commingled their juices. It fermented over beers with Holly at the Royal Mile. And then totally manifested between 10 brave souls over Facebook. Finally, Holly said, "How about calling it COFFEE and using it as an acronym?" And we all said, "Great!"

COFFEE: The Insolent Lovechild of Joy and Irritation

JOY: Because when we stop wringing our hands for a second and take inventory, we might find that life is… amazing. It's insane how amazing life is. Like if you tried to fit all of the amazingness of life in one building, the roof would rocket off and the walls would fall down. There is not enough room in my tiny melon to conceptualize the enormity of my life's amazingness. Do you get this?

I blame my optimism on The Gaithers. My sisters and I grew up Southern Baptist -- Missouri, North Carolina, then Kansas (By the time we hit Iowa, we'd run out of Southern Baptist steam.). We sang in church, a hideously sweet blonde trio in flowered dresses with Dorothy Hamill haircuts. Our mom accompanied us on the piano, she with her matching blonde Dorothy Hamill. (I know. This is too much, but it happened. We've all recovered, and you will, too.) The song I remember us performing the most was The Gaithers' "I Am a Promise." The lyrics are so corny; I shiver with embarrassment:

"I am a promise. I am a possibility. I am a promise, with a capital P. 
I am a great big bundle of potentiality." 

We did not have choreography, and I am grateful for that, but I do think these lyrics burned into the neuro-circuitry of my brain; I have never been able to get rid of them. This chorus erupts in my head, uninvited, and I am hostage. I turn up Alanis, but still The Gaithers are smile-singing, and they are so shiny and persistent, shellacked and well-pressed. Their cheerful 70's tidal hairwaves of possibility and potential bubble my chemistry. So many ideas and so many gifts and so much aspiration…

…And such capacity to do them! Not just one or two of them, but ALL of them. Not just because we're capable, but because we live in a place where we can follow whatever (legal) whim we choose! I am from a long line of veterans, including my dad, and am keenly aware that if I want to walk out the door in spandex today and become a hot air balloon operator, I can! (Thanks, Dad!) If I want to wear a navy blue pantsuit and work in a bank, I can do that, too. (Thanks, Pappaw!) If I want to join the circus and eat fire, go for it. (Thanks, Uncle Bill!) Wear socks with sandals and hitchhike to Dollywood? Yes, no problem! (Thanks, Cousin Gary!) Play the jazz flute in a Gaithers tribute band? Of course! (Thanks, Uncle J.C.!) It may not be easy or without barrier or public disapproval or unpleasantry or controversy or bodily harm or jazz flutes, but it's POSSIBLE.

All we have to do is put in the effort. We are free to be the truest versions of ourselves at any given moment, and no one is allowed to shoot us because they don't like it. And if we fail, we are free to try again. Sure, our country still has some work to do in the area of equal liberties (in my opinion), but the point is that the work is POSSIBLE (with a capital P).

The liberties here for all of us are mind-boggling. Politically, socially, spiritually, emotionally, intellectually… We are free free free people strolling through this endless buffet of opportunity. *I* am completely free free free, and yet...

PROFOUND IRRITATION: I do nothing. I complain of boredom or fatigue. I see limits and hardship. I get lazy and complacent. I demand more but for less. I sit and sit and sit and comply with the template even when the template is horribly misshapen and small and cannot capture the enormity of my soul. It's a wasteful and completely ridiculous way to live. But it's easy. It is easy to have everything and do nothing.

I chalk it up to fear -- of imperfect outcomes, of failure, of difficult work, of disapproval. How many things do we talk ourselves out of, because we cannot guarantee success? Lots.

And we're not just talking gigantic, quit your job and move to Ghana, elephant strides here. Fear and "false limits" keep us from doing small things, too. And those small things add up and keep us constrained: won't go to a movie alone, because it will look weird; won't wear a particular shirt because people will think we're strange; won't dance in public, because we feel dumb; won't reach out to someone, because they might reject us. Won't won't won't. Who would we become if we did?

My theory is that when we squish all those subtle (or not so subtle) pulses, we knock ourselves out of balance with who we were intended to be (which is innately good and joyful), and that imbalance is the source of a lot of unhappiness. We're squeezing ourselves into dysfunctional plastic soul suits and therefore not living openly or purely or joyfully.

The other part of that theory is that liberation can happen gradually. It can start with the small things. The more we do the little things that make us uncomfortable, the more we do, period. The fewer limits we perceive. The more we grow. The more profoundly we evolve. Eventually, inner and outer align: the things we do line up with who we are, at the purest level. Because who we are at our purest level is innately good and joyful, we start living that way. Everybody wins.

I know I'm not the only one who feels these things. There is not a single unique thing about the psychology of me. So--and this brings me to the origin of COFFEE--I thought, how about a collective? How about an experiment--recruit a group of smart, expressive people willing to:

a) scare the crap out of themselves, and
b) risk public failure,
c) in order to push past what they believed were limits, and therefore
d) live as they have been afforded and as they were intended -- free.

Our collective would pick projects, small, big, mid-sized, whatever. Push ourselves past what we believed were our limits. Share the imperfect process with others. And then see what happens.

And they said yes.



amy said...

This is one, introductory blast of pure awesomeness, Ms. P!

I can't wait to bring out my inner mini-health nut. I think it's divine coincidence my word verification is "pasta." (Whole wheat for me, please.) Hooray!

patresa said...

whole wheat pasta! woo!

thanks, amy! i'm so glad you're here!

Stephany said...

Preach it, Sista P!
Love, love, love this...
To quote two of the coolest cats from our teen years, "I'm not worthy... I'm not worthy..." :)
Let's ROLL, COFFEE chicks!

patresa said...

wayne's world is a fountain of WISDOM!

rolling rolling rolling! yee haw! COFFEE chicks works for me!