15 November 2010

Thanks for All Tea Leaves, Big and Small

“We are very lucky people.  With this cup of tea, let us never forget this.”

My tea friend Chan and I were having a cup together this past weekend.  He doesn’t say very much, but he is certainly more philosophical and profound than I usually am.  I was reading the news online and saw that Burma’s Nobel Prize winning political, Aung San Suu Kyi, had been “released” from house arrest after serving the last day of her latest sentence, imposed on her by the illegitimate military junta ruling Burma.

Burma?  Aside from the one refugee I had met in college, I know little about the country, have never eaten any of its cuisine, or thought about traveling there.  I visited the usual travel and information sites online to learn more about a country that is so mysterious to me.  A resource-rich nation that is considered to be, along with Somalia, the most corrupt place in the world.  The masses live around the poverty-level and the economy grows at a rate several times less than the SE Asian average.  There is limited access to all of the niceties that we have come to see as necessities.  What would life be like there, I asked rhetorically, as Chan and I shared a moment of obvious reflection over the gratitude we have for all of our blessings.  My father says that we reflect on our blessings not to compare ourselves to or boast about how much better we are than others, but to realize that what we have and enjoy also enables us to provide relief and aid.


Jars, containers and baggies of various teas sit on a cheap plastic table, abutting a teak cabinet holding a variety of teaware and the rare splurge on an antique.  A small and low table, pulled off of nightstand duty to serve as a makeshift bookshelf, accommodates various other samples and tea books, topped by a little statuette of a happy golden pig bathing in pu’er leaves.  The current state of the room is representative of an artful clutter of my life in tea, a statement that life is to be enjoyed in whatever state that it finds itself in.  I look around and for that moment, I’m overwhelmingly absorbed by the gratitude I have for everything that has come together in my life for me to enjoy that singular moment of beauty, surrounded by an accumulation of “tea treasures.”  Whether we can enjoy a delicious tea bag from the local market or an exquisite heirloom tea, we are all lucky to bask in that pleasure.


I reflect on these experiences and many others like them as a pre-Thanksgiving homage to the bounty that can be enjoyed every day.  Nobody’s life is perfect, and even as I sit here in my favorite Seattle cafe suffering from a sinus infection and hoping that any number of things in my life would run more smoothly, I am reminded of the fact that since I can sit here and write this in comfort, and that you have the time to sit wherever you may be and read this post, means that we are lucky people indeed.  It is our affinity that I may be able to pass my best sentiments onto you today, and I hope that you too will take a moment to appreciate how beautiful the many aspects of your own life are.

Drink good tea and enrich your life.  I’ll do just that, once I finish this awesome cup of . . . coffee.

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