Love, Pain, and Coffee Beans

The smell of coffee filled the room, which delighted Czak very much. For him, that very scent is power, a source of inspiration and energy. It lifts him up when he is down, it provides him creative fuel when he can’t write, it wakes him up when he is sleepy, and so many other things. For him, coffee is life. At the same time, the number of people in the shop drains his energy. Czak never really liked being in a crowded place, especially when there is noise. The noise drowns his thinking, his imagination, his creativity. It kills his focus. Being in a coffee shop full of people is like heaven and hell rolled into one decadent bliss.

“Czak,” a voice called out.

Czak snapped out of his momentary delusion. “Yes?” He seemed fazed.

“You spaced out again,” Zeke answered. “This is the third time you spaced out in fifteen minutes. Are you okay?”

Czak smiled. “I was just in the zone.”

“Right, in the zone,” Zeke mocked. “Your screen is empty. In what zone are you in?”

With a smirk, Czak replied, “Somewhere you will never be in.”

Zeke sighed and shook his head. “What is wrong? And don’t tell me that there is nothing wrong. I know you.”

“I’m fine, really.” Czak scoffed.

“You’re fine, my ass, Czak.”

Czak smiled. “Really. Am okay. There is nothing to worry about.”

“Remember when your pet died? You told everyone you were okay, and you went inside your room and cried for a solid three hours. Of course, you’re okay. You’re always okay. You’re the king of okay.”

“I appreciate the sarcasm and the Doctor Who reference, my friend,” Czak smirked.

“Come clean to me.”

Czak let out a heavy sigh. “Okay,” he said. “I can’t write. That’s the problem.”

“What do you mean you can’t write?”

“I can’t. I just can’t. I lost the general ability to write.”

“I’ve seen you write all day and all night for the past few weeks, Czak.” Zeke took a sip of his tea. “That is impossible. You? Can’t write? Of all people, Czak Alastar di Angelo cannot write. The world is doomed.”

Czak gave out a hearty laugh. “I am flattered that you believe otherwise. At the same time, that is the truth.”

“Then what have you been doing the past few days?”

“Writing,” Czak answered, “for other people.”

Zeke seemed confused.

“When I said I cannot write, I meant for myself. I can’t seem to write what I think, what I feel, just like I used to.” Czak explained. “When was the last time you saw me post something on my blog?”

“Months ago?”

“Exactly.”

“What’s wrong?”

“I don’t know. I just can’t write. I can’t seem to find any inspiration and motivation these days.” Czak sighed again, and this time, it lingered like the scent of the ocean on a beach.

“What inspires you to write? What motivates you to write?” Zeke looked totally concerned. He was, actually. Not because Czak can no longer write, but because he knew that something is wrong with his best friend’s life, and he does not know anything about it.

“Love. Pain.”

“And?”

“And I can’t seem to find either of them in my life right now. I feel no love, I feel no pain. I feel nothing.” Czak picked up his cup of coffee and brought it closer to his nose. He inhaled the aroma, the pleasant scent of what used to be a source of inspiration. He felt nothing.

“Czak, listen, I know you are stuck on the same ground after what happened, but you should not let that ruin your passion. Your talent. I’ve read your recent works, and I can’t feel you in them. It’s like . . . they weren’t yours at all. I can say you lost your touch a little, and I don’t want that to continue. Writing has always been something you are good at, and it is going to be a shame if you let that go just because you lost the person who inspired and motivated you.”

“Easy for you to say, Zeke,” Czak smirked, taking a sip of his coffee.

“I know, I know. At the same time, that is true. Remember how I used to paint?”

Czak nodded, taking a bite of his bagel.

“I lost that,” Zeke said nonchalantly, “not because it just disappeared, but because I decided to let it go. I stopped painting, I never cared. I lost it. And I do not want the same thing to happen to you and your writing.”

Czak nodded slowly, not sure how he would react.

“Analyze this, Czak. How would you describe an egg? A raw egg.”

“Fragile,” Czak answered.

“How about a carrot?”

“Bright, stiff, hard.”

“How about coffee beans?”

Czak smiled. “Oh, they are glorious. They are love and life itself.”

Zeke smiled as well. “Now what happens when you place them in boiling water?”

“What? All at the same time?” Czak seemed confused.

Zeke laughed. “No, you idjit. What happens to each of them when you put them in boiling water?”

“No, you bastard, ask clear questions,” Czak mocked and laughed.

“Answer my question, idjit,” Zeke demanded, smiling.

“Well, the same thing. They get cooked.”

“That is true,” Zeke agreed. “At the same time, they all react differently.”

“What? Am not sure I follow.”

Zeke stared art Czak’s dazed face and sighed. “I can’t believe this day has come—that I will be the one teaching you something.” He smiled. “Which one are you when adversity knocks on your door? How do you respond, Czak? Are you an egg, a carrot, or a coffee bean?”

“I am not sure how that question helps,” Czak stuttered in confusion.

“Think of this: are you the egg that starts with a malleable heart but changes with the heat? Do you have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship, or some other trial, have you become hardened and stiff? Does your shell look the same, but on the inside, are you bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart? Or are you the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do you wilt and become soft and lose your strength? Or are you like the coffee bean?”

Czak thought for a moment.

“The bean actually changes the hot water, Czak, the very circumstance that brings the pain.” Zeke explains. “When the water gets hot, the coffee bean releases its fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate yourself to another level? How do you handle adversity, Czak? You have always been a coffee bean, Czak.”

Czak smiled, understanding what he meant.

“Remember when you were still in school, living with a scarce financial budget? Remember how you survived all the hardships on your own? Where is that kind of Czak now? Are you going to be an egg, a carrot, or a coffee bean this time?” Zeke stared with painful truth at Czak’s eyes. “Make yourself your own inspiration and motivation, Czak. You’ve inspired and motivated a lot of people. Am sure you can do the same for yourself. Do not look for other people to inspire and motivate you so you don’t stumble when they do. Do you get it?”

Czak’s face lit up. “Thanks, Zeke. I needed that slap of reality.”

“Too bad it was not an actual slap.” Zeke smiled.

Czak chuckled and looked at his laptop. He turned his eyes to Zeke who was smiling. “Thank you. I think I have something in mind now,” he said, and reached out for his laptop. “I’m glad I have you as a friend. You’re the best.”

“I agree,” Zeke replied nonchalantly as he took a sip of his tea.

Czak smirked and started writing his new story. A story that he hoped to inspire a lot more people. He made sure that moving forward, he will be just like coffee.

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