Your Cold Brew Coffee is BS: Or Seneca on Stoicism
The only people who drink hot coffee after 1 pm are ad agency hacks who are trying to sober up after a 2 martini lunch. You have self respect. So you drink a cold coffee beverage in the afternoon. The problem you face is that you live in a capitalist country. You live in a place that is always trying to convince you that you are not good enough unless you buy a fancy version of something you don’t need or will pee out in an hour’s time.
So you’ve got someone trying to sell you cold brew coffee. Either the cute girl in the local coffee house is trying to wink and flirt you into a $4.50 iced latte or some coworker of yours is trying to brag about how great the coffee is from their exclusive limited edition Japanese cold brew coffee device. Either way you slice it, part of your kids’ college fund is about to be flushed down the pisser.
It doesn’t have to be this way. You can live the simple life. You are free to call BS every few minutes and recalibrate your spending back to a sane level. There are people your age who are already retired. How did they do it? They learned how to call BS on stuff like overpriced coffee, overly luxurious SUV’s, yearly home remodels, &c. These folks are tapping into an old school of philosophy called Stoicism.
A stoic is not someone who stands staunch against the rocks facing the onslaught of a hurricane with a smile. A stoic is not someone who grins and bears the slings and arrows cast unjustly by others in their direction. Rather, a stoic is someone who calls BS. A stoic is someone who says, “All this material and acquisitive stuff you seem to think is so important as actually just jive. The quality of marble in your kitchen is not important compared to the quality and depth of your friendships.”
“It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor.” - Seneca
You already have enough. You are already happy. Extinguish your material striving and rest content under a shade tree with a nice cool glass of water. Anything more is froth.
I met my old friend for dinner last year. I had just acquired an overly luxurious vehicle. I was certain that I needed it. I was convinced that I had earned it, that I had deserved it. I had ‘done my time’. I ‘had it coming’. My friend drove up in his new car. He was driving a Ford Fiesta. This is the same guy who went to great lengths when he lived in L.A. to find some sanctuary where he could park his A6 so that it would not be scratched or pooped on. Now he shows up in a base model Ford Fiesta. I was confused, but my confusion didn’t last very long. When he told me how his car would be fully paid for free and clear in a couple of years and how it was just as fast and useful as any other car he had owned, I came to understand.
My family and I recently went to a camping wedding. 180 people descended upon a private campground in the mountains of California to see a young couple marry. We all took turns cooking and cleaning. We drank out of mason jars. We played frisbee, soccer, cornhole, hide & seek… The ceremony was held in a cathedral of redwoods. The reception entertainment was a band of beloved friends of the family. The wedding probably cost $1000. The couple had inheritance to pay for something grand, something in keeping with all the wedding magazines and tv shows. They put the money in the bank. Aside from my own beach wedding, this was the best wedding I had ever attended. It was woven through and through with the right priorities for a successful marriage. Everyone must work. You will get dirty. You must look at each other. You should sometimes sit in a circle, face one another and talk. Dance as much as you can. Run around and play. Stay up late and sing. These are what a healthy marriage needs, not an invoice from a catering company.
So I got annoyed with the cold brew people. I tried an experiment. I asked, “What’s the cheapest, most Seneca way of making some cold brew coffee?”
So I got an old 42 oz jelly jar that was leftover from something we bought at Costco. (You may already know that toddlers survive on PB&J and snow cones, so you are familiar with Costco strawberry jelly.) I scooped a 1/2 cup of Pete’s coffee grounds in. Filled it with water. Shook it. Put it in the fridge for 2 days. Pulled it out. Strained it. Bingo, 4 cups of cold brew coffee!
Is it as good as the $4.50 one from the store? Yes. Especially if you can control your mind enough to resist the part of capitalism that is trying to convince you that you are not good enough as you are. So my afternoon coffee has been mastered and it is cheap. Now I’ve been infected. What else can I simplify? What other commercial scaffolding can I tear down from my life, leaving sunshine and a cool breeze in it’s place?
I think my next Seneca project is hamburgers.