Every day (and often several times a day) hubby and I take turns “kettle sitting” — staying by the stove until the water boils in the kettle. The teapot is usually prepped already and waiting for that water to begin its magic of drawing from tea leaves a wondrous essence that becomes tea. One day, we chose to “kettle sit” together, and hubby related the experience he and a friend had had with a flat tire, an experience from which an important lesson had been learned.
Years ago, hubby carpooled to work with someone he had known for years before they started their term of employment at the same small company. The route they drove every day included a stretch that was up and over a very tall hill (or possibly it was a rather short mountain). Sometimes hubby drove his car, and sometimes his friend drove. They had a similar sense of humor and often spent the drive trading witticisms.
One day on a particularly tricky spot where the tall hill/short mountain slid down rather vertically to a lush tree-filled ravine, they were laughing at an especially amusing anecdote one of them had told when — poofth!! — they heard that sound that could only mean one thing: a flat tire. This was confirmed by the wobbling of the steering wheel and the thumpa thumpa thumpa of the quickly deflating tire. Hubby’s friend pulled over to the shoulder, equally spaced between the precipice on one side and the 55-mile-per-hour traffic whizzing by on the other side.
Now, at this point, I would probably have been totally distraught, as in “Agh!” My mind would be listing the problems — a flat tire, a steep slope, cars passing by without even attempting to stop and offer assistance. Yada yada yada!
That didn’t happen with hubby and his friend. You might think that the difference was that they were men. Wrong. I’ve known plenty of men who would have totally freaked in the same situation. You might think it was because two of them were there to handle the task. Also wrong. Hubby actually ended up not being able to assist. His friend was insistent on taking care of it himself since it was his car.
The difference was the attitude of hubby’s friend. He exited the car very matter-of-factly, got out the jack and spare from the trunk of the car (his car so he knew what was there), and proceeded step-by-competent-step to change the flat out for the spare. In a few minutes, it was done and they were back on their way. Hubby asked him how he had stayed so calm, and he replied simply, “It was just a flat tire. Nothing to get excited about.”
When hubby told me the story, he said how much it had impressed him, not that he was prone to being overly excitable. The sheer level-headedness had stuck with him, he said, and he had applied it to his own assessment of situations that weren’t quite running as smoothly as he would have liked. He always kept the bigger goal in sight. In the case of the flat tire, that meant getting it fixed and getting back on the road to work.
When it comes to tea, this is just as valuable a lesson. It can be pretty easy to mess up the steeping of a tea, especially when it’s one being tried for the first time. Even following the vendor instructions, you can go astray. Just like the flat tire, though, you need to keep the goal in sight. Oversteeped your green tea? Dump it and make some more, paying closer attention. Assam tea came out bitter? If you like to drink it without milk, you can always thin it a bit and add a sweetener. The cake you were baking for your teatime fall flat? Get out that spare box of McVitie’ Digestives or Walker’s Shortbread and serve up some fresh fruit with them.
The goal is an enjoyable teatime. Don’t sweat the small stuff and the small challenges that come along. Keep that bigger goal in sight. Enjoy!
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