My previously posted theories, The Seagull Theory, or How Not To Be A Shit and The Cactus Theory, or How Not To Be A Prick, were both strongly grounded in gross generalizations and sarcasm while sharing deeply profound truths about the nature of people to behave a certain way… or not. This theory is somewhat of a different nature and explores the variety of times when stopping to have a cuppa can keep one from disaster.
“Top off the tea… it lubricates the grey matter.”
(Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)
Ah, yes, lubrication… it’s an essential.
A cuppa, for you Yanks, is a cup of tea. For the sake of this theory it includes any of the black, roobios, green, spice, or herbal varieties that is steeped at the optimal temperature for its type for a specific amount of time before being served alone or with any number of added bits, like sugar or honey, lemon, or cream (US) or milk (UK), although everyone in the know knows that properly it is a black tea of some sort steeped first in just less than boiling water in a prewarmed (scalded) teapot that is served over a smidgen of milk (yes… milk first).
A conflict, for the sake of this theory, can be anything along the broad spectrum from a disagreement about who loaded the dishwasher last to full on combat. I’m not picky. The theory applies everywhere.
Let’s start at one far end.
Not being a military man, I don’t have the faintest idea what it is like to be in battle or combat. It’s true. But as an avid reader and amateur military history buff, I know of and am ever fascinated and amused by instances where humanity trumps heroism and politics on or around the battlefield. Below we have a photograph of New Zealand soldiers pausing for a cuppa in WWI having just taken a German trench (Archives New Zealand, Internal Affairs):
Cup of tea in the middle of a killing field. And why not?
There is no trouble so great or grave that cannot be much diminished by a nice cup of tea.
Really. Why not? Why not pause for a moment to reflect on your humanity and to grasp at a piece of civilized life to remember who you are and why you are there? After all…
Where there’s tea, there’s hope.
(Sir Arthur Pinero)
And what has a man (or woman) if he has not hope? What is the essence of humanity if not in the social connection with another and to find compassion in conflict? The Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama seem to think these are the crux of humanity (The Book of Joy, Douglas Abrams) and while a cuppa may not be the only means by which to exemplify these, it is one way.
Taking this all one step further, consider the type of person we want on the frontlines fighting for right and truth and justice and freedom?! Do we want some big great brute with no intelligence and soul? Some meat sack full of fecal matter and stupid? Or someone with morality, intellect, conscious, an appreciation for the humanities and for humans, and who will do what is right because it is right but who can also understand and weigh the great questions that come with war? Because, personally, I prefer the latter and if I am perfectly frank I would have to say:
If man has no tea in him, he is incapable of understanding truth and beauty.
So what else is there to do in the midst of a lull in battle but to sometimes find a way to catch one’s breath and have a cuppa?
But just as I am not a military man, or even a man at all, I would wager not many of you readers are either, so what good does the mid-combat cuppa do for us? Not a whole lot until we reframe our thinking a skosh.
a small amount : bit, smidgen
—used adverbially with a
A skoshing of our thinking while intending to reframe…
If you will, consider the following…
Every day we fight battles in our worlds. Some are big. Some are small. Some are external, others internal. Some carry much weight while others feel weighty but really carry very little at all. Yet we fight.
What if we all learned to stop and take stock of things, to ground ourselves with the gentle herb called tea, and to calm our nerves in the midst of our turmoil? What if we slowed ourselves down enough to consider the humanity of the other? What if we slowed ourselves down long enough to consider our own?! The time it takes to heat the water, steep, sweeten, and sip is ample time to cool one’s jets without taking too much time.
If you are cold, tea will warm you;
If you are too heated, it will cool you;
If you are depressed, it will cheer you;
If you are excited, it will calm you.
It can do all that and more, so why not let it? Why not stop in the middle of your troubles every once in a while to steep your soul in some wisdom from the ages?
Stop punishing yourself for your shortcomings… You’re human.
Don’t push away those things you fear… Whether it is a conversation you want or need to have, an emotion or conflict that needs to be addressed, an insecurity, or something else, be the buffalo.
Label things honestly.
Learn from the experiences.
And let the struggles go.
Honestly, the only way this fails is if you cannot or will not give it a whirl. At any given moment, day or night, I am never more than an arm’s length away from a cuppa. At any given moment, I will have more tea than perishable or non perishable food in my pantry. With all the things I’ve experienced and survived, one of the few things that never fails is a cup of tea and when I’ve not had any is when I’ve neglected the kettle. And when I have done, few can understand:
We had a kettle; we let it leak:
Our not repairing made it worse.
We haven’t had any tea for a week…
The bottom is out of the Universe.
So c’mon, pull up an over-sized armchair a la your grandfather’s den or your grandmother’s sitting room, grab yourself a lovely cup and saucer, and pour yourself some tea with cake. After all, as my wee great-gran Phoebe used to say, “I’ll see you in the funny pages with ice cream on your head,” which roughly translated means, “put the kettle on, dear, it’s always time for a cuppa.”
Normally I would have a teacup and saucer, not a mug and plate, but as I’m living at a hospital setting still, I’ll just be happy that they match. This night’s cuppa was hibiscus with local raw (unfiltered, unpasteurized) honey and pizzelles which, truly, are the only cookie apart from a shortbread that will ever sit with my tea.
Originally published 22 February 2019, republished 15 August 2019