Coffee in Europe is something to behold. It varies from city to city, but one thing remains the same throughout the continent – you sit down to drink it. This concept of simply sitting and savoring a roast or steamy tea is completely foreign to my life back home. As I’m sure you can relate, my daily grind consists of spending all my time getting from one task to the next and none enjoying the proverbial ride there. In contrast, I thoroughly enjoyed my car ride from Kortrijk to Amsterdam this weekend as I gazed out the window for hours at foggy fields and windmills, and a few nights ago I even sipped coffee in an armchair long enough for the liquid to cool before I’d finished. And, I can only imagine that my recent abundance of new ideas for scripts and other writing projects has been a residual benefit of these languid hours spent staring into windows and whipped foam…Yes, indeed, inspiration truly does hit you from every angle in Europe and I have to believe there’s a way to recreate this back in the states by simply sitting still.
So, how exactly do we make ourselves sit still in multitasking Americaland? My simplified answer is this: we need to create small adventures and expose ourselves to one new thing that gives us pause each day. This new experience can be something tiny, such as a new route to work or new recipe, and you can save the bigger things for the weekend (like taking a road trip to a nearby town or visiting a museum). I’ll admit this sounds so taxing to me already, and I have a hard time imagining how I’ll ever squeeze something new into merely one day of my typical week; however, this idea becomes more approachable when I think about it as filling my life with variations on things I already do (read: sitting down to drink coffee in a mug instead of rushing away with it in a paper cup). After all, it’s this variety we need, because, unlike Europe or other exotic destinations, our homes and offices do not have the advantage of new and exciting sights that constantly jar us out of our routines and make us sit still in sheer wonderment. I know the new sights and moments of stillness I’m experiencing on my travels have been just what I needed to catapult me out of my work rut and get my creative juices flowing, so I hope you are similarly able to find little variations on themes this week. May they have the power to invigorate you and give you the will to sit still long enough for an abundance of new ideas or long-sought solutions to creep into your mind.
Psst: I’m not exactly a coffee lover, but one of the things I’ve adored about my trip has been the care that’s gone into the presentation of the few cups I’ve ordered. My first coffee in Amsterdam (pictured above) came with sugar cubes, coffee-bean-shaped dark chocolates, a shot glass of water and a white-chocolate praline. In Belgium, nice cafés give you platters that include all these accoutrements, plus cookies and a dollop of chocolate mousse. I think making my own version of a coffee platter like this will be one of my first tasks when I get home next week.