Sips of Coffee and Pain.




Here is another day that I have to survive, I thought, as I pushed the gabi off my legs and left the bed. 

A deep breath… I whisper. That should help ease the tension in my shoulders…

Coffee, coffee, coffee. Yes, coffee.

It can be tiring – this life – can’t it? The tiring could, maybe, even be bearable, if only we could find meaning in our pain. But sometimes the ridiculousness of existence becomes the only thing that’s clear enough to understand. Sometimes the meaning you were working to articulate disappears like a mirage when you’re just about to grab it. The utter absurdity of it all… you plan so impeccably well, you work hard, you do the right thing… yet still wake up some mornings with that hollow emptiness that eats at your soul. Every “right thing” you’ve done hasn’t filled the void. It hasn’t clarified the 3:00am confusions, cured your hidden longings or calmed your anxieties…

A deep breath… coffee cup in hand, I open the door to the backyard… A sudden cold fall breeze hits my face. I could feel goosebumps all over my body, all at once… Oh God, when did it become fall?

Oh the pain, the anxiety, the absurdity… but then, there’s this perfect fall breeze that so gently kisses your neck, whispering to you – you are alive! It wakes you up with a kind of authority you unknowingly crave. It wakes you up to the ease within the struggle… 

Like that first sip of coffee soothing your throat along with your pain… with every sip, your body relaxing, expanding, preparing you to take on your day. As your lips touch the cup, you remember kisses exist. Sweet, long, tender kisses that send shivers down your spine, even this breeze can never manage to do… Then you remember the first time he touched you and seeing yourself melt like the butter your mother sinks into the hot shiro she so brilliantly makes. You blush. 

Thoughts bring up more thoughts…

There were the long cold kiremt Sundays, where you laid around lazily with your gabi, coffee and some buna kurse, where not much mattered but the bliss of presence.

That doro wot you can’t stop eating, with snot coming out of your nose because your aunt decided the measure of a true habesha is their tolerance of good ol berbere..

There’s Aster Awake’s voice telling you Ayzoh in the exact moment you needed to hear it most.

There was that time you laid down next to a woman, caressed the soft skin between her thighs along with her soul… hiding within her embrace, baring your whole soul to her – the weak, the beautiful, the ugly – and felt rebirthed.

…And language exists. Letters, words, sentences… forget the wisdom, knowledge and lessons that they have carried to us. Think – you read me and I can read you. We exist, not so separate.

Oh and then there’s love. You have felt it – deeply. You’ve looked at another human and your heart made you leap to hold them. To just be – with them. You have felt their pain as if it was your very own, you have delighted in their joy. You can love… with no logic, reason or explanation… You are capable of loving, possessing the very key that opens the gates out of hell… 

There’s poetry – words so perfectly intertwined speaking to your spirit and allowing your spirit to speak to the universe…  

There’s laughter… You have laughed … tears running down your cheeks, stomach curled, snorts and all. You have laughed at others, at yourself, at life itself… you are capable of laughter even in the abyss. 

So am I. 

I finish my coffee and walk back in. The existential panic will have to wait for another day. Today, I am alive – fully. 


Within the absurdity, there lays so much beauty to be found in the small things – a sip, a touch, a smile…

” I have finally concluded, maybe that’s what life is mostly about: there’s a lot of despair, but also the odd moment of beauty, where time is no longer the same. It’s as if those strains of music created a sort of interlude in time, something suspended, an elsewhere that had come to us, an always within never. Yes, that’s it, an always within never.” – Muriel Barbery. 

So if I were to say a little prayer for you and me this morning for the upcoming New Year, it would be… if what you’re anticipating is joy, may you be given the wisdom to savor every moment. If it’s anguish your heart is preparing itself for, may your heart awaken to the tenacity that it possesses. If you’re anticipating success, may you be given humility and if it is failures that you dread, may you reap lessons from it. But most of all, I pray that you rid yourself of anticipation itself. I pray that you live life fully today, given tomorrow is abstract, full of both good and bad possibilities. I pray that you stop cooperating with uncertainty. Today is the only thing you own – certainly – so live it. I will too. 

Melkam Addis Amet.