One of the simplest formulae for bliss.
In all my years of motherhood, a cup of hot tea and a biscuit have been my best friends, my counsel and my therapy. I have to confess that hardly a day has gone by in the last twenty years or so when I have not had that small indulgence to return to, Alhamdulillah.
A self-confession of my very own personal peccadillo.
But I make no apology for enjoying the time out for this wonderful epitome of satisfaction. It isn’t just about the pleasure of the cup of tea itself and the biscuit. It’s more about how those two things allow me an escape from the monotonous routine of life. They represent a few moments of mindfulness; when everything stands still for a while and I can press ‘pause’ on all around me and forget my reality. Ironically, it’s one of the few occassions when I can empty my mind of clutter and fill it with a zen-like tranquility. It is an excuse to disconnect from the hustle and bustle and go into silent reverie mode.
Maybe I am not ambitious. To get that much enjoyment from the small things in life might seem quite pathetic to some. However, I marvel at how it is sometimes the simplest of things that bring so much pleasure. I have a favourite cup and a favourite tray (for one) with a favourite biscuit. Once equipped, I retreat to a place on my own in the corner of my living room or my bedroom. No company required or desired. It is a ceremony wherein I unplug myself from any conversations, online or otherwise. I do not entertain questions or demands from anyone. Silence becomes sacrosanct. For ten minutes or so, I choose to become numb to everything and everyone else. Even my children and their demands can wait. I need that time to recharge, reboot and reload.
Over the years, the particular tea and biscuit may have changed but essentially, the need for time alone has remained the same. I actually make it known to those around me that on my list of occasions where I need absolute silence and focus, my prayers stand at an unrivalled first place. I cannot have anyone distracting me from the one thing which requires my utmost focus in life. That being said, the afternoon cup of tea is the only thing that comes second. Though the gap between them may be huge in terms of priority, I honestly can’t think of anything else which deserves the right to silence than those two things. Of course, I have had many cups of tea as a stimulus for social interactions but I must say, rarely have those times equalled the sense of delight I get when sitting alone sipping at my tea and feeling unshackled by life.
This candid reflection is not an invitation for others to feel sorry for me. I have always enjoyed this experience whatever my circumstances. Like an artist who retreates into the country to paint a scene of nature, or the mountain climber who ventures on a solo expedition for the best view from above or the small fisherman who patiently waits alone in his boat for the catch of the day, I am simply another human who enjoys that opportune solitary experience to reconnect with myself and my inner thoughts. My vista might not be as exotic as those mentioned above but viewing the world above the rim of my cup, everything seems just right for those few moments.
It might be a very British thing – the penchant for a traditional cup of tea. Although I am not averse to a good cup of coffee, I confess that tea will always score more points. Others in my family know that when I have that cup in my hand, it is tantamount to a “Do Not Disturb” sign inscribed across my forehead. It is time for me and me only. Selfishness completely allowed. It is, after all, the rare occassion when I can – and will – put myself first. No apologies offered.
If I find myself living on my own in future, perhaps my attitude will change and I might find I’d like to share a cup of tea and a biscuit with friends more often than I would alone. Right now though, I always look forward to a few minutes each day when the world can continue spinning frantically but I will slow the pace down for myself to relish that time out. I don’t pretend to be a connoisseur of tea. But I do know I am an expert in taking the time to understand its higher purpose.