Life lessons from my coffee pot

August 18, 2010

I never know where the next lesson in life will come from. 

Today’s was from my coffee maker that occasionally malfunctions by letting grounds clog up the drip passage then overflow onto the counter.  Sometimes, like this morning, I switch the coffee maker on and go attend to other tasks in a different room.  Unknowingly leaving the pot to overflow onto the counter, into the drawers and cupboards below, and all over the floor.

"It just happens"

When I discover the mess, which of course then alters my morning routine considerably, I find the first place my mind goes is blame.  “If Procter-Silex could only build a reliable coffee maker!  Inept bastards”! 

Or get agitated at my family for having chosen the drawer beneath the coffee maker as the stationary drawer for the household, which of course now is all stained by spilled coffee.  Then come the mental images of hurling the coffee pot at the wall to show how unjustly I have just been treated by Procter-Silex, my family, Maxwell House, and of course the coffee pot itself.

Then, thankfully, only seconds later, I catch myself.  How is it anyone’s fault?  Does this sort of thing not just happen from time to time in any of our lives?  And how long really will it take to clean it up?  5 minutes at best?  Can I not do that?  Am I prepared to surrender my serenity over spilled coffee?  Will I even remember this mishap in a month, a year, 10 years from now?

I then proceeded to ask myself, “Instead of feeding my anger, what small thing can I do right now to improve this situation”?  To which I answer, “Unplug the coffee maker and put it in the sink for cleaning”.  So I do, and what happens?  Life is immediately much better.  In fact, gratitude begins to well up that I do have a coffee pot and sink, and this mishap isn’t sending me into a rage or out drinking.  Gratitude begins to displace anger and I begin to laugh.

It wasn’t 5 minutes before the entire mess is cleaned and a fresh pot of coffee is now brewing.  And best of all, I have this clear image of how blessed I am to have recovered to the point where these little incidents don’t send me around the bend anymore.  And that lights come on quickly that expose the unrecovered parts of my thinking, the ones that tried to immediately blame and self-pity over the malfunctioned coffee pot.

And let me tell you, the first cup from the next pot of fresh brew was amazing!

Simple, unexpected signposts in life that tell me I am on a better path than I was before.  And deep feelings of gratitude that show themselves in new behaviours and thinking patterns.  And the icing on the cake, joy and serenity return within moments.

Life is way better on the path of recovery.





  1. How appropriate this post was for me. I have recently found myself playing the blame game in my life. It is so easy to blame our problems on other people, or innocent household appliances, that we often forget two important factors. The first is that often responsibility lies with us. The second is that solving the problem is a better use for our energy than cursing out the microwave or the mailman!

    As always you give me words to think about and words to live by

    • Hey WSM…. amazing how others and objects become the lightning-rods of our momentary frustrations, isn’t it? We just seem to go there by default. And these patterns of thought and behaviour have been rehearsed into deep-rooted habits over time.

      The good news is that we can re-train ourselves. And these small events serve as fabulous training grounds for the bigger stuff in life.

      We can re-script our defaults. And I am happy to report that at 40-something, I am still able to change and grow in these ways. I do not believe there are any age limits. Even if some of us have practiced our way into these unproductive habits for decades.

      And what a reward eh? A happier, more productive life.



  2. I feel like my serenity is tested by people, places and things about a million times a day, sometimes. My reaction is an excellent barometer of my spiritual condition! Sometimes it indicates I have work to do, sometimes it’s an indicator of how far I’ve come, like you experienced, today.

    • And aren’t the most meaningful barometric readings the ones when nobody else is looking or listening? When we maintain our serenity just because we do, and not for anyone else?

      Thats the real good stuff. When we don’t depart too far from peace or for too long.

      I love it and am grateful for it.

  3. YEAH for you, your recovery & HP for always providing the strength!

  4. Yeah indeed! It is just such an undescribable feeling to go through something and find that you react differently without having to force it. I knew the blame thing was trying to jump to the front of the line and I redirected it only seconds after it appeared. Automatically. And no energy was wasted on a self-pity tantrum.

    To perhaps put it in inner-child terms, maybe even though the bad parent jumped to the front of the line with advice to blame and self-pity, the good parent showed up only seconds later and talked over the bad parent so I made a better decision.



  5. ‘By George – I think he’s got it” said with an English accent. 🙂

    • Well I gotta be frank Donna…. the inner child concept describes many things meaningfully. I read your page(s) on it and it does analogize much of life as I have experienced it.

      Some of my past experiences have dismissed, belittled, or been paranoid of the inner child notions.

      However, I so often find, that if we get past certain biases that perhaps we had very little to do with their initial formation, and may very well have been fed to us out of ignorance at a vulnerable time of our lives, a whole dimension of enlightenment blossoms.

      This describes my experience with the 12 steps. I thought they were antiquaited notions of grumpy old drunk men. But an open mind showed me differently.

      So I ask myself, why not explore the inner-child ideas? They are proving to be valuable discoveries.

      So thanks.

      Ciao. Chaz

  6. Wow, I’m not even sure how I stumbled unto this post, this blog. Thank you. I am on the other side, a wife waiting, hoping, worrying… The 12 steps have helped me a lot. Day by day, finding a place to start..unplug the coffee maker and put the pot in the sink, etc. Thanks

    • Unlikely Rebel… glad you popped in.

      I find hearing the side of those in my life affected by my alcoholism, or other like yourself who have been, incredibly helpful. As I am sure you do too.

      Glad to hear also that you have some support around you for coping and dealing with the fact you have an alcoholic in your life.

      And yes, I too have many days were I just do not know where to start. There is so much clamour and noise in my head with the priorities at hand. But the first step is usually tiny and obvious once we stop engaging the debates in our head.



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