A year and a half ago I hosted a tea party that I talked up as the party where I’d serve my 5,000th cuppa free tea. It was a grand celebration, with many folks in attendance, most of whom were aware that they might get that mighty number.
For the 10,000th cup, I decided that I really just wanted to relax somewhere in nature, be with myself, not put out a sign, and just wait for people to come stop in to see what the bus is all about. With 12 cups ‘till 10,000, I headed up to Luffenholdtz Beach near Trinidad, CA. It’s a spot that I really like to relax at, and years ago my buddy Owen and I had served some tailgate tea out of my pickup truck and had a blast.
I figured at least a few people would take interest and stop in. I left my doors open, but the cold and rain forced me to close the big handicapped door at for a while. It was gradutation weekend for HSU students, so many of the folks who came up there were students with their parents, attempting to soak up the scenery in the rain. No one stopped in. I sipped 5 cups over the course of the afternoon, and counted them towards my count, as I don’t discriminate my own cups while serving tea usually.
I was kind of bummed no one stopped in, but it gave me more time to think about the significance of 10,000 cups. I began to think about the obvious preference of quality of interactions through cups of tea, rather than the number of cups served. However, I truly feel that most of the cups served have held quality interactions between people, whether there were good conversations, music, or not often felt kindness from strangers; whether there were words or silence; whether the tea was too hot, not sweet enough, or just right. Yet, I still felt like there was something I could do to emphasize that this large number wasn’t my main focus, and that quality is better.
I thought about dumping the 10,000 cup in the river, letting it take a course similar to that in Harry Nilsson’s song Think About Your Troubles – letting it flow down to the ocean to be eaten by some fishes, and on up the food chain to the whale who dies and decomposes and the basic elements are returned to the water where it is sucked up, filtered and comes back out the tap into a pot of tea.
I though about throwing it in a puddle or the gutter to emphasize it’s lack of importance. I thought about drinking it myself. Or serving it to someone and not telling him or her. I liked this idea. After I shared a couple cups of tea with my friend Joe at the shop, I got a message from a friend who invited me to a potluck. Perfect.
With 5 cups left until 10,000, I picked up some friends, told them the plan, and drove to the event. It was a crew of people who were working on a farm, growing good local organic food, and getting it to the community. I feel that growing good food is one of the most important things one can do to impact the world in a positive manner. I was happy to give this love to these people.
As people gathered food on their plates, I boiled up some water and made a big batch of Nettle, Green Rooibos, and Rose Petal tea. I put it out with some cups for people to drink. Many people got cups, and everyone who did got to drink the 10,000 cuppa free tea. I didn’t tell them.
In China the number 10,000 is a figurative number meaning infinite or more than countable – akin to our zillion. Now that we’ve reached that number, is there even a need to keep counting? Sometimes I feel like having roughly accurate large number (see entry on 5,000 cuppa free tea to see how I count my cups) adds some legitimacy to this whole project when asking for donations, dealing with authority, or just trying to convince non-believers like my grandparents. On the other hand, I don’t really want the number of cups of free tea to be a center of attention, not that it has been, but I want to make each cup with focus, diligence, and love.
What do you think?