The ‘finer’ things in life aside, there is an equally important lesson I suspect I’ve always known, but it took a very dear friend to remind me. A reminder that gratitude finds those who search for it. And it all started with a simple mug of tea. And a friend who is truly among the dearest to me.
Now bear in mind, I’ve never been a tea drinker. Not in the traditional sense. I enjoy my rooibos. And bottomless cups of green tea got me through my varsity years. But Ceylon. It just wasn’t my cuppa tea, if you’ll indulge me a pun.
My mom has always been the tea drinker, and coffee has always been my daily poison of choice. That’s how it’s always been. I’ll make her a cup of tea then use the spoon to stir my coffee so as not to taint her cup for my mother loathes anything coffee-flavoured.
Well, always is to say until this one fateful day.
This friend, this dear, dear friend. He is a madman and a genius. His artistic talent knows no bounds in my humble regard as something of an admirer of all things evocative and honest. He is the man to whom I turn when I feel that the world itself has gone mad and I, Bipolar Girl, must surely be amongst the sanest of the lot. And he usually confirms that indeed, our world has gone mad, but that the centre holds firm with me. Me. My axis. It can just keep on turning. And in him, I find reassurance. Peace.
A day arrived, however, when I needed his counsel on an artistic matter. You see, on attending university I’d had to make a decision. Pursue my love of art, or on the other hand, my love of literature. (Today, I’d like to believe there’s room aplenty for both in my life, fond as I am of the most magically rendered children’s books I’ve collected over the years.) But with the passing of time, you see, I’d lost a great deal of my art and had forgotten that I could even trace the shape of my own hand.
And yet, I’d recently visited my ex-stepmother (Oh father!), and proudly a set of five place mats I’d made for her at ten years of age had been displayed to the dinner party. It was quite obvious by the place mats that at that stage I was going through my ‘sea creature phase’. (There were many ‘animal phases’ in my youth and still today… Among the earliest I can recall my white tiger phase… My albatross phase… My cheetah phase… My bat phase…But no matter! The list could on!)
All the same, I wanted prints made of these place mats, surprised as I was by a semblance of creative aptitude and flair, to adorn the walls of my own home as something of a keepsake and reminder, perhaps even as some encouragement to invest in a set watercolours once again. But here I needed Christo’s advice, for Christo is the name of my dear, dear friend.
How should I have them scanned, and printed, and framed? I was clueless on these matters. I’d dealt only, as a high school student, in paints and charcoal and pencil and fine-liners. All this digital business left me floundering. So we arranged a day when he would assess the place mats and give me the soundest advice he had to offer (which believe me when I say, is always of the soundest).
But when the day came, I’d received some upsetting family news and arrived at his studio shaken and in tears. He gently motioned that I take a seat and told me he’d bring a cup of tea and some water. And there I sat, in a sunny spot on the patio sipping on a cup of Ceylon tea while he undertook the more serious task of considering my art and truly, in all seriousness. Art I’d been almost too embarrassed to show him, the art of a child.
After careful measuring, I was given the exact instructions I needed while I let the tea soak in so very, very deep, warming me to the core and lifting me from my pitiful state.
I am eternally indebted to this beautiful, mercurial soul. I think kismet sent him my way, to speak true. He is my kindler. When I find myself in times of depression or sorrow, befallen in yet another long and cold internal winter, he ignites a flame and keeps the fire burning.
And so a little heartsore that day, but feeling better, I walked home and was reminded of a sign outside a stone church that I pass just about every day. It reads: Be still and know that I am God. I find it as something of a joke between the Universe and me, me with my overactive mind. I arrived home and it dawned on me again that I had run out of coffee. I’d recently resigned from a stressful job, and so had little in the way of funds to replace my empty Ricoffy tin. But I did have an entire box of Five Roses tea, unopened, that I’d kept just in case a guest should want. And that afternoon, after my walk home, I wanted nothing more but yet another cuppa tea.
It wasn’t quite as good as Christo’s but it was what I needed to see it through yet another day, to dry my eyes and to forge onwards and upwards. Sometimes, I guess, it’s the simplest of things, the tiniest of gestures of love and care, that keep our hopes alive and hearts wide open.
Should you be going through a rough day, and just need a listening ear, help is only a click away at 7 Cups of Tea. Simply click here for all the help you need.
Teacup in oil by Roxanne Dyer