Coffee Plunger | | A Way With Works | Creative Writing Workshops | Creative Writing Course | Felicity Lenehan

I feel like a coffee grain in a giant coffee plunger at the moment: with a slow ceiling of pressure squeezing down on the whole world. There is no escape – the metal plate goes right to the edge sealing you in, and it just keeps coming, pushing down, making us swirl in increasing chaos on the muddy, thick, concentrated pool of yuck beneath.

Uncertainty, living in a high state of nervousness, isolation, will all do that to you.

I don’t want to be in the boiling bowl of bitterness. I don’t want to be the grain of coffee that’s squashed down and left at the bottom of the beaker, discarded down the drain, useless when this is all over.

Most importantly, I don’t want my kids to end up there – and the kids, they’re not doing ok. They do not have a solid base from which to grow right now – stressed parents, a big old mess of a confusion at school, creativity and the arts taken from them, and that most dangerous of words, suicide, is heavier in the air than any Covid aerosol.  Their base is a scramble of chicken wire – all knots, sharp edges and big holes to slip through.

I want them to be ok.

But how to we find our way out?

I’ve been a bit obsessed with this recently. I’ve listened to friends, listened to Oprah, Brene, Deepak, and prayed my palms off. And for me, this is the plan: Focus on the little picture and the big picture.

The little picture is mindfulness. You can’t see a way out of the chaos if you’re looking through a mind muddied by a swirling, intensely brewing pool of stress. So first, we practice Deepak Chopra’s STOP – Stop what you’re doing, Take three breaths, Observe your body and smile, Proceed with kindness and compassion – on yourself. Because if you give yourself kindness and compassion, you don’t even have to try and force it upon others, it just comes. We practice STOP in the mornings when everyone’s losing their shizzle as they get ready for school. I yell “STOP”, someone sings “in the name of love”, the little one’s giggle at their silly mum and the teens roll their eyes, then we pause and do the thang – breath, observe, proceed. It works. It recalibrates – we step outside the stress and see it for what it is, not helpful.

The little picture is looking in, going small, all about the details. Appreciating the good thing’s you have…Flowers because spring is coming. A moment of silence in which to breathe. An hour doing something for you – painting, yoga, running, or lying in bed reading. Healthy food in the fridge. Friends. Family. Loopy as it is, my alarm screams at me to meditate once a day. I’m TERRIBLE at meditating – but the stopping and breathing for five minutes helps. And the more I practice, the better I hope I’ll get.

The big picture is about looking up at an open blue sky, out at the wonder of a wide, sweeping, green Australian countryside, across an endlessly deep ocean where Mother Nature is a force to be reckoned with, drawing up eight-foot waves then smashing them it into impermanence. It’s about making yourself feel small. There are bigger things than you at play here: it’s whatever your higher power is – God, Mother Nature, a sense of spirit, the universe. You are not in control, nor is our government, nor a world power like America or China, not even a virus – that was just sent as part of the big picture – not the big picture.

Keep your eye on the prize. Make a future for the kids.

Because what happens when the metal plate of the plunger finally gets to the bottom? The strongest parts of the coffee rise up, push through the barrier, out of the chaos – and what is left over is a tranquil pool of better, sweeter, kinder, more powerful, more balanced and happier elixir, which is ready to wake us all up.