Coffee and ‘Not on My Watch’ Callings

At a recent women’s retreat I was struck by how many of us were angry. Not at each other, or even necessarily at anyone in particular—but angry none-the-less. Angry at destructive partriarchy or abuse, angry at the depth of polarization over both big and little issues: sometimes angry at having tolerated too much for too long.

What do we do with those feelings?

How do we keep ourselves from bitterness, or its ugly opposing sister disillusionment?

How do we find our BRAVE Way through the tough stuff?

As selfish as it may sound we start by asking, “What do I want?”

We ask ourselves that question until we move beyond the presenting issues, prevailing emotions and simplistic solutions to uncover the values and relationships that really matter to us most. And with that discovery we may just find ourselves in a  ‘Not on my watch”’ moment. You may have experienced this already, the clarity that comes when your pain and passion collide and suddenly the impossible feels worth fighting for.

Or you may be in one of those liminal seasons of waiting in which it seems we rage and wrestle with an elusive enemy.

Asking a few of the woman who had recently found their ‘Not on my watch’ calling what had precipitated their new found passion each answered in her own way:

“I could not take one more story of . . . ”

“I woke up to what was happening around me.”

“Our first grandchild was born.”

“A group of us started talking one day and we realized…”

“I realized that I was waiting for someone to do something about it, and that all around me were people waiting for someone to do something about it, and that maybe I was as likely a candidate as anyone else to at least convene a conversation.”

Convening a conversation is a really good way to start. In fact it turns out that dialogue is a powerful tool for transformation. All great movements start that way, and perhaps surprisingly many of them in a coffee shop.

From Africa to Eurasia to the Americas, and from political to artistic to environmental and social justice breakthroughs “it is difficult to find a major paradigm-breaking intellectual movement since 1700 that has not been associated with coffeehouses and coffee drinking.”[1] Crazy.

I am not a big coffee drinker, but I do love a good conversation with someone who asks wise and curious questions to help me to move past knee jerk reactions to unexpected, yet wise and revolutionary, responses.

Maybe you could be that person for someone.

And maybe that someone will change a corner of the world.



[1] Kenneth Davids, Coffee: A Guide to Buying, Brewing and Enjoying 5th ed., St Martins Publishing, 15.