Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Healing old wounds with tea

Have made an executive decision here at

For now on when I'm not sure what to write about, which quite honestly happens very rarely, I'm going to riff on the Three Cups of Tea premise. I've talked enough about this that my regular readers know that I've already credited Greg Mortenson with this idea. I'm certainly not stealing any ideas. To be pedantic, it wasn't even his idea. He was recounting a common practice in Pakistan/Afghanistan and not inventing something new.

But I never would've heard anything about it were it not for his fantastic book on the subject.

My plan is to take a great idea and run with it. As far as I can go, actually. I think this is going to be a lot of fun. Not just today, but for many posts in the future.

The basic premise is that we meet and have a cup of tea and are strangers. While we drink the second cup, we become friends. During the enjoyment of the third, we become family. That's the premise. I think it's good, but I've talked to people in my daily life and they seem to believe it's unrealistic.

Sure for little problems, it might work. Maybe. But for real problems. Geopolitical problems? Never. Family problems that go back years? Forget about it. People you've hated for years for good reason? No flippin' way, lahikmajoe. That's just not to be solved over three cups of your godforsaken tea. No way.

So, I'm going to start with a real person. A real situation. Now this is a guy I've disliked since university. He loathed me and I returned the sentiment. We were the opposite of thick as thieves. We were merely thieves. He stole my energy and I took his. The more I thought of him, the more I despised him. The more I lorded my successes over him, the more he went to mutual friends and talked about what an ass I was. He was in all honesty probably right. I was an ass. Still am sometimes.

When I tried to imagine a situation where this Three Cups of Tea idea wouldn't work, it was with this guy. No way. Not with him.

But I'm going to imagine the conversation and spill it out here. Please notice that we still despise each other while the first cuppa is being drunk. Both he and I are hard nuts to crack.

He reminds me that I gloated every time anything went my way. I retorted that things certainly went my way more often than things went his way. The guy came from such a small town that he thought there were no homosexuals where he grew up. I still think about that when I encounter intolerance. If you live in a town with more then 10 people, there's a very good statistical chance that you know someone who's gay. But somehow I refrain from reminding him of his ignorance while we down our first cup. He smiles as he finishes the tea and complements me on my choice. In this little fantasy, I'm tea mother and I pour the second cup.

Turns out he likes tea too. Just like my story, he was primarily a coffee drinker when he married, but his wife pulled him over to the leaf-side. He's not quite as obsessive about it as I am, but appears to enjoy a good cup of tea. He smiles. I smile. I think we're friends. Too early to tell.

While we drink the second cup, both of us can tell that something is altered. We have a different perspective than we did when we first sat down. Because we're both lost in our thoughts, it gets relatively quiet. We still manage to bleat out a few pleasantries. Somehow.

I pour the third cup and we start to get really personal. Upon finding out how my dad died, he shares that his father-in-law has the same disease. We start to really bond. Is this even possible? Apparently so. I tell him about a friend I have who has two forms of really bad cancer. Not one, but TWO!

He knew someone our age who died last year. A high school friend of his, who happened to be gay it turned out, and they stayed close over the intervening years. He'd taken the friend's death really hard, but somehow things were slowly and softly improving. Because we connected so deeply on these two points, I realise something. We're family. We really are.

And if I'm completely honestI have to admit that he and I were always family. We both studied classical music at University. We both love Brahms.

Three Cups of Tea & we're on an entirely different footing. Entirely.


  1. Oh, the healing powers of tea...

    What a moving imaginary conversation over tea. I don't think I've ever had one like that. It was a sad account though Lahik, even if it was beautiful to read how you might bond. Death, illness and melancholic sipping.

    Do you have any crazy, fun stories to share too? Like; how the night when you & the mad hatter dude, stayed up all night, laughing and drinking tea? And you found you'd both worshipped the same girl since you were 3 years old? And how she was last seen married to the pastor, or dancing in the Crazy Horse?

    You've inspired me to think about something like that myself..Or to make a story up?

    Yours, your good tea friend,

  2. You know Jackie, I think that's just my mood lately. I can certainly conjure up a rollicking story if I put my mind to it.

    I was thinking about conflict and how how people hold themselves back by carrying around old baggage. If it's holding you back, just let it go.

    My experience has been that when I dislike someone immensely, they often have no clue the magnitude of my feelings. The people with whom I have the problems spin round my brain and I let my thoughts be ruled by these poisonous thoughts of them.

    My general idea here was that I could take any of these relationships-even one from years ago-and heal it or them with Three (simple) Cups of Tea.