Today I drank the best cup of tea of my life. Before I’d even taken a sip I knew it was going to be special. Having observed myself working up a head of steam while preparing the drink, it was clear that I was ready to punk in with all my being to rescue joy from the bottom of a ceramic cup.
The beverage itself was a simple solution for a complex problem. I still don’t know exactly what sorts of issues were swirling in the air at that moment, but a pour and a stir blew them straight out the window.
The most important thing, however, was that I was completely immersed in my role as an absorber. There was a tea-shaped void in my body waiting to be filled. The countdown to the correct temperature and the launch of the first quantity of liquid into my mouth felt like a list of reasons why time would never pass, but when liftoff finally happened I knew that a great cup of tea had chosen me as the destination of its magic saucer ride.
The experience was over all too quickly and the realisation that all future cuppas will be inferior hit me hard. There was simply no hope of topping it because what I had just enjoyed was, to all intents and purposes, perfect. Every living being has a best and worst version of everything – from teas and cakes to conversations and orgasms – so my best tea had to happen at some point.
The truly dramatic thing is that I recognised it as the definitive point at which my pleasure from tea drinking will begin to decline. I’m not saying that the drink will end up tasting insipid to me or that consuming it will become a chore; I simply mean to point out how the human brain compares like for like until it becomes a dislike.
So, while I was sipping from a cup that was very much half-full today, I was also partaking in some negative drinking that resulted in a “half-empty” label being slapped on the Cosmic Teapot. Of course, the way around this is to allow the fragmented nature of reality to define your experience – Zeno’s arrow splitting your brain into smaller and smaller compartments containing ideas such as “the perfect cup of tea drunk from a red mug” or “the perfect cup of coffee on a winter’s morning” – but at some point you will find yourself throwing parties on a subatomic level, which is not as fun as it sounds.
I’d like to think that perfection doesn’t exist because that would be the same as everything being perfect, but the problem is that I’m hardwired to look for it everywhere. By imbibing perfection and labelling it as such, I’m shooting lasers from my eyes that destroy a line of teacups stretching from my kitchen all the way to the sun.
There’s a chance that what I experienced earlier was, because I was alone at the time, the perfect moment of isolation. It could even have been the perfect moment of delusion…