Letter #6: The Power of Words and the Absence of Coffee

Dear Aglet,

Yesterday was sunny and gorgeous and I was glad just to be alive, breathing in the spring air.

Today was dark and rainy and I hadn’t had any coffee.

If local weather patterns and the absence of caffeine make as much of a difference in my mood when I’m a grandma as they do now, heaven help us, Aglet. Specifically, heaven help you.

Possibly by the time you’re around, they’ll have discovered caffeine is this CRAZY addicting drug (no way!) and they’ll regard my generation as the last of the foolish human societies who imbibed ridiculous amounts of this drug in an attempt to become as gods and work around the clock without consequences.

Maybe it’ll be illegal by the 2040s, and caffeine will be the drug of choice for business men and women, the only ones who can afford to enhance their alertness with impunity. Some poor menial will get busted Thursday because his eyebrows were raised too high during a boring staff meeting.

There’ll be a society formed to help wean people off their caffeine dependencies, full of men with disheveled faces and women with crazy hair, all horribly grouchy, attempting to function as normal human beings.

It’s in that age, Aglet, that I’ll tell you of the delightful days when was young, and getting together and drinking caffeinated beverages was the thing to do. My own parents got me started on it and thought nothing of it–how they’d just reduced their daughter to one of those weirdos who is bummed out all day FOR NO REASON except they’re tired, also for no reason.

There’s almost always reasons, Aglet. People like to blame sad days on the weather, or their hormones, or not having had their fix (of coffee), but I’m not sure why we can’t just sometimes have sad days and admit there might be valid reasons for being sad.

It’s okay to be sad sometimes.

There are lots of reasons to be sad in this world, Aglet. They have a lot to do with how the world is and how the world ought to be, and all the myriad of instances where that doesn’t line up.

I forget how powerful words are, either to lift up or to tear down. They can also wear someone down, through a consistent negativity that’s like clockwork in its accuracy. A thoughtless or impatient word somehow comes out faster and easier than does a kind word.

Tonight my lovely mom–your great-grandmother–noticed I was down and came to the college to talk with me. She bought us ice cream and told me some stories about when she was in college. Later I did some talking, and she listened, and I realized that the kindest thing she’d done was to notice that I seemed sad and ask me about it.

How often do I take the time to ask people if they’re alright? I’m not saying I need to badger people to tell me every detail of what they’re thinking, but if I had to pick a thing that’s truly worth spending time on, it might be in making myself available to listen, or speak good words to someone. Not out of an attempt to fix them, as if being sad is always a thing we must fix (often we don’t have the power to heal their situations), but out of a consideration for the person. Out of a love for them.

My mom needed to do taxes tonight, and instead spent two and a half hours visiting over some ice cream. And oh, how I love her for it.


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