by Samantha Capps
So I’ve started drinking coffee again. I had previously been coffee-free for over a year (excluding that week I spent working at New York Fashion Week, during which I drank more cups of Startbucks coffee than the sum total I had ever drank before or will ever drink again), but last Saturday, when I arrived at my second part-time job expecting to get off at five or six only to be told I would working until eight or nine and I realized that Yes, I will be working over 50 hours this week, I immediately sat down at the bar, ordered a turkey sandwich, fried Oreos, and a big ol’ cup of coffee before my work shift started.
This bothers me, because I like not drinking coffee, not because of the taste (I drink my coffee black and enjoy it very much, actually), but because I dislike being dependent on caffeine for energy. I want to cultivate a lifestyle where my sleep and diet are enough to get me through the day awake and lively, and that when I am tired, well, that’s a perfectly healthy sign that I should sleep. But with two part-time jobs, sleep and healthy food had taken the backseat to WORK, and I found myself once again jolted by into awake-ness by a good, hot cup of joe.
I thought maybe Saturday would be an exception, that next week I would be better and wouldn’t need the caffeine. But as I type this, with my eyes drooping even though I got nine hours of sleep last night and a six-hour work shift looming in the future, I know that when I sit down at the bar and eat a sandwich before starting work, I will once again order a cup of coffee.
Here is the greatest tragedy of my life: there simply is not enough time, among other resources, to do everything I want to do. I want to work so I can make money and afford things, I want to read an ever-growing list of books, I want to write every day to perfect my craft, I want to go for a daily run, I want cook healthy meals for myself, I want to maintain healthy friendships, I want to start new friendships, I want to keep my house clean, I want to keep my car in good shape, I want to sleep eight hours every night, I want to journal every day, I want to travel, I want to stay in touch with people who live far away, I want to watch every movie that has at least a 75% approval score on Rotten Tomatoes, I want to practice my French language skills and become fluent, I want to start up a Free Conversation table in Charlotte, I want to bake, I want to start a garden, I want to have fun and play with dogs and play on swing sets and go swimming and laugh and get drunk and have a good time with the people I love and care about, but there simply isn’t time to do all of these things and do them well.
I am highly introverted and need a lot of rest and downtime at home. I am a slow reader. I get tired easily. I have a chronic ankle injury that prevents me from being as active as I want to be. I am sensitive person who sometimes is simply feeling melancholy and just wants to stay at home and not accomplish anything. I am not a “GO GO GO GO GO GO” type. I find myself, at the end of the day, contemplating not everything I accomplished (working at two jobs, doing the laundry, taking out the trash, writing 300 words of an essay, sending five e-mails, have a good conversation with my dad) but everything I didn’t do (still haven’t finished that book of short stories by Flannery O’Connor, still need to finish making the sign for the Free Conversation table, forgot to do the dishes, room is a mess, car needs an oil change, haven’t spoken to What’s-Her-Name in months, didn’t read the article Dad sent me), and I go to bed feeling dissatisfied with myself and wake up exhausted because I’ve been working a lot and eating too much sugar and carbs and goddammit give me a cup of coffee!
Though my desires are infinite, I myself am finite. The energy I have and the time I take up and the space I live in is finite. And so is everyone else. By choosing to put our time and energy into one thing, we inevitably take it away from another. This is why we can only have so many close friends, why we get tired, why we get hungry, why we strive to accomplish things by working against the upper bound of our potential.
What I need is not caffeine, but the wisdom to choose what is best worth the use of my limited resources.
(I’m still getting that coffee when I go to work, though.)