Every morning I experience a moment of pure perfection.
In a foggy shuffle I feed the dog, then put the water on to boil. I grind coffee beans, just enough for one cup. I reach for my current favorite, a narrow, tall creation I found at the fair last summer. The handle suits my hand just so. The long sides are carved into three owls, and my fingers enjoy tracing their smooth complexity. A ceramic cone fits over the top of this cup, and I fill it with the fresh grind.
When the water has reached a furious boil, I lift the teapot and pour. I wait while the first half of the cup fills, and the cone drains completely. When pouring the second round I direct the stream of still-steaming water over the wet grounds clinging to the sides. I wait again.
As soon as the cup is full I move the cone to a jar and take my coffee somewhere to lounge – the couch, an easy chair, maybe even the kitchen table.
This is when the moment approaches.
The first sip is rarely perfect. Too hot, too impatient. But soon it arrives. The black coffee is hot but not too hot. My mind has cleared but does not race. My tongue has taken the coffee in but not yet reached saturation. My belly warms. My spirit lifts.
Half of the coffee is still hot in the cup, gently steaming. Everything is balanced on the pinpoint of happiness.
But time does not stand still. The coffee is cooling. The cup is getting emptier. My belly is getting full, and my tongue is getting inured to the joy of the bitter subtleties.
This is when I feel it. Dukka. There’s no holding the moment. There is no second cup experience like the first cup. I know. I’ve tried. There is only the one perfect moment, and on a good day it’s a long moment. I cannot stop time nor grasp water, and I cannot prolong the perfection of the first cup of coffee.
But there’s always tomorrow.