Waiting for the tea kettle to boil is a great time to contemplate the deep mysteries of life. Or one’s navel — which can be pretty mysterious even when filled with lint — but I digress.

One of the best things about tea is that you can choose to have a little “me time” while preparing it, especially while waiting for that tea kettle to whistle. During one of these “me times” I started thinking about “something” and “nothing.” Chuckle if you wish, but these are important concepts.

Some examples:

  • The universe is full of matter (something) and abhors a vacuum (nothing).
  • Computers at their very heart obey a series of 1’s (somethings) and 0’s (nothings).
  • Light switches are “on” (something) or “off” (nothing) — dimmer switches don’t count.
  • The tea plant (Camellia Sinensis) was just another bush (nothing), then tea was discovered as a tasty and beneficial beverage (something).

How tea “nothing” turned into “something”: A few thousand years ago in China a leaf fell off of a particular bush into a pot of boiling water. The resulting brew tasted good and seemed beneficial to health.

Tea was very simple then. Over the intervening millennia, the processing of the tea leaves and the steeping of them for imbibing grew more complicated, picking up bits and pieces (sort of like a sticky ball rolling downhill) such as the philosophy called Daoism and elaborate tea ceremonies. Today, tea is a big industry getting bigger and a growing part of the lives of a large percentage of the world’s population. Tea has grown into a big SOMETHING.

I’m about to get technical and a bit philosophical.

In the universe there has always been something, that is, matter has always existed. That’s the premise to begin with. (Some think all this matter was compressed into an astoundingly dense ball and then suddenly blew out into the space around it — the Big Bang Theory. Others think that matter just constantly expands and contracts — a much less fantastic notion and definitely more plausible.) From there you know that “nothing” is just an idea in man’s mind, since there is always matter. Somethings that seem to go away just break down to smaller somethings, some down to subatomic particle somethings. Some of these join with other somethings to form new somethings. We can say that a particular arrangement of somethings doesn’t exist, such as “We have no tea in the house. Time to go buy some.” In actuality, the somethings that make up tea that you had in your pantry still exist. They’re just altered into the somethings that you drank (the tea liquid) and the somethings that were left and thrown in the trash or onto the compost pile (the tea leaves after steeping).

Phew! That’s a lot of somethings.

By now, my teacup is full of nothing (and my nature, like Mother Nature, abhors a vacuum), so I’d better go get “something” to steep up into a pot of tea “something.” Cheers!

A.C.’s blog, Tea Time with A.C. Cargill, is certainly a universe of an ever-expanding nature. Check it out today!