Thursday, January 20, 2011

To Agonize, or Not to Agonize

That is the question.

Stop whatever it is you are doing.

Close your eyes and get in touch with the thoughts tearing about in your head and the emotions rampaging through your body.

Then take a deep breath and let it go. Let go of the breath. Let go of the whirlwind.

Let it drain right out of you. If it's not all gone, take another deep breath and do it again.

There. Now feel, listen, to that center deep within you. What is it saying?

Stop agonizing.

All sorts of amazing things will become clear.

In the world of tea, to agonize means simply to steep. According to an interview by Zinta Aistars with Polly Kragt, The Queen of Tea, "...'the agony of the leaves' [is] a phrase used to describe the steeping and unfurling of tea leaves while brewing the perfect cup of tea."

I like the tea-related definition of agonizing better than the one we have been taught, the one I have believed in all these years:

Online Free Dictionary: ag·o·nize (g-nz)


v. ag·o·nized, ag·o·niz·ing, ag·o·niz·es
v.intr.
1. To suffer extreme pain or great anguish.
2. To make a great effort; struggle.
v.tr.
To cause great pain or anguish to. See Synonyms at afflict.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
[Medieval Latin agnizre, from Greek agnizesthai, to struggle, from agn, contest; see agony.]-----------------------------------------------------
Alcoholics Anonymous has a saying, "Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional."

Is it really that simple?

I think so. I can choose to writhe in excruciating pain, tumbled by the ebb and flow of life in an undertow that smashes my head in to rocks and my face in the sand.

Or I can choose to steep in the inevitable turbulence, contained within the quiet of self, until I am the perfect 'cup of tea'.

*******************************

Light bulb! I just realized that I am a fewer-leaves-in-the-tea-strainer kinda gal. BUT I'm also a leave-it-in-there-forever kinda gal. I even cozy up to the stick.

Do I steep too long? Naaahh. Just to my own satisfaction.

Picture me, sitting sideways in my ancient slouchy chair, back to a cushioned arm, knees pulled up, draped in Bugsy's favorite sage-green throw, sipping out of my 20-ounce terracotta mug, my favori-test tea, Japanese Sakura Cherry Green Tea, delivered by UPS this very day from Cafe Moto in California, listening to my inner quiet deliver a novel of epic proportions (now that was a long-a** sentence, phew!).

Now. Picture me, reeling in the wake of the world. I like the first vision better.

How do you envision yourself?

~ Olivia J. Herrell

13 comments:

AlexOngNYC said...

Great insight. I'm a steeper and leave it in longer than I should. Sometimes it's good sometimes it's bad both in teacups and life.

Alex
Breakfast Every Hour

welcome to my world of poetry said...

I take the deep breath approach and relax, the longer you angonize the longer it is to get in a calm state of mind.

Enjoyed the post but I'm not a tea drinker,

Yvonne.

Dolly said...

What a thought provoking post. Excellent. I will go away now, let my tea leaves agonise, whilst I breathe deeply and relax. Thanks for this Olivia.

Jules said...

Wait I have to clear your image. Breath In...

I see myself ALIVE but snow covered.

Great description and insight. Centered is good for you :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Michelle Gregory said...

i think i'd agonize if *i* were steeping in hot water.

Kimber Leszczuk. said...

I love this analogy. I think I am one to shove as many things in there as I can at once then I don't let them steep that long. I get it all out quick then it is gone forever.

:)

LOL

I tend to not agonize very much at all usually. I am a pretty optimistic person.

Donna Hole said...

Definitely like the first picture of you better. You wear comfortable well :)

Right now, I'm picturing myself warm and cozy in my bed with a dream of a hot, steamy lover.

Have a good night Olivia.

........dhole

Jennifer Hillier said...

I have a hard time remembering to breathe and let things go... but I'm working on it. :)

Enjoyed this post!

Jayne said...

Rebel, this made me smile. I actually did close my eyes and breath for a bit before I went on with the read.
Steep. I like this.
I'm a big tea drinker, and I don't think I'll be able to have another cup of it without thinking of this post. Thanks for shedding your leaves.

DEZMOND said...

oooh, loved this post! :)
And when it comes to tea I like my black, strong, with honey and lemon ... I like me some strength, flavour and energy like in anything in my life :)

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Insightful post. I'm not a steeper. I'm a stewer. I stew about things that I cannot control. And like oversteeped tea, my mood grows bitter -- unless, like you suggest, I step back and just let go of life and let it do its own thing. Thanks, Olivia. I needed that bit of wisdom. Roland

Walter Knight said...

Oh you can be my "cup of tea" anytime. Can I add sugar?

Olivia J. Herrell said...

You guys are the best blogger friends in the world.

THANK YOU!! :)

~Olivia

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