The Parable Of The Coffee And The Cups

A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university professor. Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life. Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups – porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, and some quite exquisite – telling them to help themselves to the coffee. When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said: “If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups have been taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress. Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee. In most cases it is just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink. What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups… And then you began eyeing each other’s cups. Now consider this: Life is the coffee; the jobs, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain Life, and the type of cup we have does not define, nor change the quality of life we live. Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee. Savor the coffee, not the cups! The happiest people don’t have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything. Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly.

While not much probably needs to be said about the truth of this parable, it is one I’m sure many of us have dealt with at some point in our lives. When I was once earning close to $100k a year, I was constantly looking for the next best thing to acquire, whether that was a person, place, or thing. In doing so, I missed out on some the best moments that life can offer from seeing plenty of beauty in nature, to spending time with close friends, to volunteering my time to help others in need, to laughing at the silliest of things, and so on and so forth. That’s why I’m kind of glad I don’t have that type of income anymore because it’s truly helped me to experience and appreciate a lot more of those little things in life that often tend to bring us a far greater amount of peace and joy…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson