Once upon a time, under the covers of a bed not so far away, I found myself trapped.
Outside, the fall air was blanketed in fog and I was groggy, struggling to get the morning started.
The sheets weighed like cinderblocks – they usually do but on this particular morning they were oddly stronger than normal.
My arms trembled to break myself free. After a few revs the cerebral engine kicked into first gear as I launched the covers off my body and in a daze I lumbered downstairs.
A series of steps later and soon I was face to face with my daily rocket fuel.
My loyal french press.
Without focusing, muscle memory had me opening a cabinet and twisting off the lid of a mason jar filled with ground coffee. My vision was blurry and hands were shaking. I erratically started digging and scooping tiny mounds of coffee into the press, and the blue linoleum all around me became tarnished as grounds escaped to the floor.
It didn’t matter; this was time for coffee and to wake up.
Not one, not two, but three massive scoops of Safeway Select ground coffee were necessary for this batch of brew.
Water boiled on the stove then my frantic hand swirled the mixture together. A voice echoed from some far off corner of my consciousness as the liquid began to steep.
Daniel, you’re in a rut.
I blinked and didn’t break eye contact with the metallic press, ignoring whoever that was who said that.
In the background, the kitchen clock’s metallic hand became maddening. Once every second my serenity would become disrupted by a tick.
Finally I pushed on the steel lid on my coffeemaker, plunging it deeper into the canister and dividing the grounds from the hot water.
A wonderful waterfall of caffeine poured into a white mug.
One sip, then another, then one more for good measure.
Usually the mere flavors of coffee would instantly perk me up but this morning was different.
Nothing, absolutely nothing. The tide of drowsiness wasn’t receding; it was flooding all over the morning’s picnic.
I poured a second cup of java.
Oh frick I thought to myself. This was the moment I was fearing since the day I started my successful passion project many years ago of drinking an endless supply of coffee provisions: the caffeine stopped working.
After multiple tastes it became clear that that no matter how many cups of coffee were drank that it wouldn’t be enough to mask the hard truth:
Maybe this was a rut.
It was time for a new plan of action.
I plopped my torso and legs onto the floor. I started to push myself up and back down in fury. If the sweet nectar of caffeine couldn’t galvanize my body then surely some bursts of physical activity would.
Up, down. Up, down. Up, down.
My arms creaked in harmony with the floor as momentum started to dissipate. Gravity became the victor as my body went limp. The only place that escaped the muscular burn was the right side of my face as it pressed against cold kitchen.
Damn my feeble 32 year old body I cursed. In a pant I lifted myself up and down a few more times but it wasn’t to any avail. Exercise wasn’t doing to dig me out of this internal hole that seemed to be shoveling dirt into my face.
I sat up feeling lost and already missing the good old days of a caffeine buzz.
This was a textbook case of being stuck in a rut.
Neither coffee nor exercise could appease the inner vacancy. There was something missing and I needed another remedy. I needed…
Natural light entered my world as I opened the blinds, returned to the coffee table, flipped open my laptop and oxygen seeped into the deepest corner of my lungs.
A blank Word document.
Without thinking my fingers started to dance across the keyboard.
In times like these what the heck could I write about?
A flurry of tapping and spaces and periods started to consume me. My roommate aka-my dad walked by and I only greeted him with a neanderthal-like grunt. Somehow words crept into the territory of sentences and eventually something happened:
I started to wake up.
The kitchen clock was probably still ticking but the only important thing was filling the blankness of the word document in front of me. Moments later I looked up and noticed that hours had passed. Whatever it was I had written was suddenly finished and a wave of relief came over me. My hands needed a break and inside the flooding was at bay.
This exercise was firstly just a form of therapy and way to distract myself. However, after a quick skim of the draft I actually liked it.
A thought bubbled up into my head:
Dare I share this with the universe?
I decided to not wait a second later and publish it in my blog, before waves of doubt started to swell. Clicking open my page I noticed that it had been months since publishing anything.
My blog didn’t need to give me a lip service for its lack of attention because the aftertaste from all that coffee was from a blend called remorse. It had been a neglected digital puppy from a lazy wannabe verbose owner. The inspiration garden had been suffering a drought so nothing had been motivating me to write.
After copying, pasting, and finally clicking the “publish” button I realized that we don’t have to be inspired to create something, we just need to start and eventually inspiration will come. Going with the flow and seeing what happens often times works in interesting ways.
A small green notification told me that the article had been successfully published to the world.
Looking out the window the fog was fading and it appeared that the day would actually be beautiful. A mental scan told me that the rut was thankfully gone. The voice came back.
Daniel, this might be one of the best days ever.
I was going to brush my teeth, get the day started, but impulsively I sat back down, opened the laptop and clicked open the article.
I had to read it again…just one more time for good measure.
I read the opening sentence to myself:
“Once upon a time, under the covers of a bed not so far away, I found myself trapped.”
After a moment I decided to close the laptop and get going. This was all I needed.
It ended up being a truly wonderful day.
Thanks for reading, I like your style!
5 thoughts on “The Case of the Sneaking Rut”
Your grasp of language and conveyance of emotion is at times unparalleled. Wonderful piece of work but I think your rut might be bigger than you think. As always you will honestly deal with it head on because your integrity speaks louder than your writing. My prayer is you find an Aunt Diana, who will help you become the man that perhaps you never deserved to be and yet the man you were meant to be. Love you!!
I love you too Uncle Mike! I appreciate you and Aunt Diana for being who you are and for being supportive.
This is wonderful.I wish i could print it out but for some reason I can only print the picture of the coffee. I love you. Life really is good. Mom
As always, Dan, your writing leaves me vividly imagining whatever it is you are describing. I can definitely relate to your groggy morning routine; minus the pushups! Coincidentially, I am on my way to Target this evening to replace my broken Keurig. I can’t think without that morning cup of Joe. Tell your roommate I said hi!
Thanks for reading Lisa! I appreciate the positive feedback and your time. Happy New Year and a a big hug to you and the family 🙂 My roommate says hello as well!