I’m reflecting as I gaze into my cup of coffee today (Tanzania Nyamtimbo Peaberry purchased from Sweet Maria’s http://www.sweetmarias.com/coffee.africa.tanzania.php – apparently best to roast to City + or Full City + ).
I’ve been experimenting with my new coffee roaster – the Gene Café. It’s completely different from my iRoast2. I’m in new territory and frankly I don’t exactly know where……I’m not sure I’ve got this roast “right”… that is have I really brought out the delights of this particular bean? The wonder and joy of the Gene Café also means that I’m thrown overboard into the sea of roasting. I now need to watch the changing colour of the beans as they roast… to listen to the “first crack” as well as get used to the foibles of the new machine, not least the undulating voltage in France……
Ah La France!…we’ve been here now for 16 months…. Whenever people ask me “How’s my French?” I’m reminded of a passage in Neither Here nor There by Bill Bryson:-
When I told friends in London that I was going to travel around Europe and write a book about it, they said, “Oh, you must speak a lot of languages”. “Why no”, I would reply with a certain pride, “only English”, and they would look at me as if I were crazy. But that’s the glory of foreign travel, as far as I am concerned. I don’t want to know what people are talking about. I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything. Suddenly you are five years old again. You can’t read anything, you have only the most rudimentary sense of how things work, you can’t even reliably cross a street without endangering your life. Your whole existence becomes a series of interesting guesses.
Then I recently read this passage in Being Wrong (adventures in the margin of error) by Kathryn Schulz:-
As we get older, the learning curve decelerates, and all these things drop off exponentially. We make fewer mistakes, function more efficiently, and come to share with other adults certain baseline beliefs about the world. But we also spend much less of our time in anything remotely akin to exploration, learning and play. The pleasurable mistakes of childhood disrupt our lives less often, partly because the world is less novel to us, and partly because we don’t seek out whatever novelty remains – or at least we don’t do so with the same zeal (and same institutional support: classrooms, afterschool programs, summer camps) as children.
There are exceptions, of course. Long after we have left behind the error-rich kingdom of childhood, we find ways to put ourselves in the path of wrongness in order to grow and change. Take the example of travel, like children, travellers explore the unknown- where, also like children, they routinely make linguistic errors, violate social codes, and get lost, literally and otherwise…….
………Sometimes, we want to be the toddler in Times Square. We travel to feel like a kid again: because we hope to experience the world as new and because we believe the best way to learn about it is to play in it. In travelling……. we embrace the possibility of being wrong not out of necessity but because it changes our lives for the better.
I take another sip of coffee…I have no idea what’s going on……Ah bliss….. it tastes great!