Pushing the Limits

Fear of coffee pots (and other things)

I’ve never learned to make coffee.

Now, hear me out: each morning, I press the little blue button on my Keurig (an amazing invention, if I do say so myself), wait 30 seconds, and pop in the pod of my choice. (Usually, I go for Columbian, but if I’m feelin’ fancy, French Vanilla.)

Voila. Java awaits.

So, yeah, I can make myself coffee. But only using one machine I already know how to use.

The funny thing is, I don’t know where along the line I became so resistant to learning how to make a cup of coffee the good old fashioned way.

At what point did I throw up my hands and say, “staying clueless will have to do”?

Sure, there have been times – in hotels, at a family member’s house – when I’ve been asked to put the coffee on. In those instances, I’ll kindly tell the person who’s asked me that I just don’t know how. That usually does the trick, and someone else ends up brewing the next batch.

I never took initiative. It is always easy for me to admit my weaknesses, but it’s never easy to ask someone to empower me, to teach me how.

I love to learn about new things — new places, new people, stories I’ve never heard before. I love curling up with lengthy feature articles, or diving into a three-part special on TV. The secret lives of presidents? Count me in. A newsworthy gossip article? The latest stats to boost my fantasy football team? Yes and yes.

Each day, I seek out knowledge and hold on for dear life. I share what I’ve learned with my husband, my friends, my family. I tell them what I know — but I rarely show them what I know.

So why is it different when it comes to learning to do, rather than learning to know? Is it a kind of inherent laziness?

Or is it a fear of something more profound – the giving up of an identity that we create for ourselves?

What I mean is: maybe I manufacture this helpless view of myself because it fits into my own narrative. Maybe I resist learning how to make coffee because learning how to do even one more, small thing every day makes us more powerful, more capable, than we’d ever imagined. And, with that capability, we might ask ourselves to do and to accomplish – and that scares us.

I guess it’s bigger than learning to brew coffee, or swapping ceiling fans, or hanging a curtain rod: learning to do is both empowering and petrifying.

Next time it’s time to change the coffee, I hope I’ll have the strength to volunteer.

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