“Do not underestimate the determination of a quiet man.” – Lain Duncan Smith

My First Sunrise and Self Cleaning

Morning coffee is important to me. Some might call it an addiction but I choose to label it a “comforting tradition”. For me it represents a moment when there is peace … where I feel in the moment that “all is well in the universe”, and the aromas and tastes help convince me that indeed it is true. So it is obvious that ensuring a continued ability to sustain this early morning ceremony would be an important item on my “check list” for this adventure. And it was.

So as I awoke to this first morning holding close my good intentions, I began this first day not knowing that my initial opportunity for a “lesson” was soon to unfold. I confidently filled the coffee maker with pure water, inserted the filter, counted out the measures of coffee blended into my most preferred combination of tastes, poured in the water and pressed the “on” button. A familiar background gurgling sound emanated from the machine but somehow it seemed different … something I would know since I have this very same Cuisinart machine at home.

Ah … the answer … “Self-Cleaning” … “Self-Cleaning” was the utterance from this device of humankind as I realized that my intended coffee was not to result but that my special blend brew was circulating throughout the machine as the cleaning agent it thought needed.

“If doing something the same way results in the same result, one must do something different” … or at least something like that … so I Googled the brand and model for possible wisdom and guidance, and developed strategies to employ in hopes of doing something different. Naively I also set off to try to salvage my brew while working to change the machine’s intent … taking the grounds that might remain and discover a creative means of collecting at least one cup for consumption while the machine continued on its path to somewhere other than in my service.

As each step was taken another opportunity arose to “feel” like I was in some reality show testing my patience and problem solving skills. Thinking I might salvage some of my first try at producing my glorious nectar, I took the affected filter cone and grounds to a cup, heated water, and poured fresh hot water in the filter held in position over the cup. One might think … “ahh, indeed a simple yet creative approach”. Not so for I “learned” that coffee filters are not designed to be suspended as the weight of water is poured down upon them. The result … a successfully and uniquely created cup of black sludge.

I am trained to stick to it … to not give in simply because the task is hard … so I continued my efforts to create one cup of coffee. So I took another cup, placed three filters inside each other, and added water to the cup of sludge. I needed to heat the sludge so I placed it into the microwave to heat. A new microwave … never used … sometimes produces unanticipated results … at least that was the next lesson learned. For as I heard the bell, opened the door, and reached in I saw that the cup of sludge had graduated into a lake of brown liquid with the glorious sludge cup standing proudly at its core.

So more cleaning (this time me) and again an attempt to heat the sludge with yet more water, but setting the time from a place of knowledge and experience. Ahh-ha … success … at least only the diluted sludge remained. So once again, breath held, I poured the heated sludge into the triple layers of filters and SLOWLY my brew began to emerge. The sigh of relief and the joy of success flowed through me and my new digs. I was left with my first cup of coffee for the morning.

I’ve come to understand that machines can become narrowly focused and they remain focused on execution of task without regard for need, time, or sanity of those it was intended to serve. This machine clearly abided by these principles because its sole intention for over the past 4 hours has been to clean itself despite any efforts to convince it otherwise. Needless to say, I savored the one cup for I knew that a second was unlikely until the machine surrendered it’s continue focus on cleaning. And as of this typing, the machine continues to hold tightly to its cause. New actions have been taken to replace the machine … but the solution is still unfolding. Simply more lessons in letting go of plans … seeking truth and knowledge … and savoring small offerings that mean much.

It is indeed a rich first day of my retreat … and gives one a new perspective on being “clean”.

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