I’ve been working mostly from home for the last week, which means I had to solve the morning coffee differently. I don’t have an espresso machine, so I resorted to an old coffee making technique, in which the coffee is “scalded”. You put a teaspoon of coffee in a normal mug, then add boiling water on top of it. I’m sure there is some fancy word for it, like V60 or aeropress or whatever, I just call it “scalded” coffee.
As I was cleaning the remaining of yesterday’s coffee, this morning, I saw the coffee grounds going down the drain. And, just like in Marcel Proust’s famous “madeleine” situation, a word I haven’t used in the last 20 years, at least, just popped in my head: “za?” (pronounced “zaats” in English). This is how we call the used coffee grounds in a coffee in Romanian.
When I was a kid, and my parents were still drinking coffee (they gave up a few decades ago), I remember they were doing some sort of coffee ground divination (“ghicit în cafea”). The way the coffee grounds were laying on the bottom and on the walls of the mug was creating strange shapes. And they were trying to find a meaning in it. I remember my mom “saw” my grade at my college admission exam – it was a nine, and indeed, I entered at the University of Letters in Bucharest with a 9.50 average grade.
Mind you, if there wasn’t enough “za?” in the coffee, no pattern was emerging, the grounds were just too scattered away. Too much of it, and you had just an informal, brown-black pile. So there was a subtle art not only of coffee making, in terms of taste, but also in terms of just how much “za?” you should have into it, so you can generate some usable patterns.
So, we were using “za?” a lot. But, lately, not that much.
I personally didn’t use it at all, to be honest, until today.
And then I started to think abut this. How many words we’re not using anymore.
Words are creating our reality. The moment we stop using some word, it means that part of our reality is gone. It may or may not be replaced by something new, but that specific part will never be back.
Unless we stack the words somewhere in a safe place of our memory, and gently let them be triggered by some “random”, madeleine-like event. And then, for a brief moment, that part of reality is alive again.
Choose your words wisely, for they will re-instate parts of your current reality later on. Make sure you really want that word in your future life, because it will be there.