“She was an idiot, incompetent. Everyone else can make my double-caff latte with two shots of caramel and a shot of vanilla!” This is a paraphrase of the rant that I heard as I walked to work yesterday. The rant was in progress when I first heard it and continued past the time when I decided that I would take another route to work a few minutes later. The rage and anger in the woman’s voice were significant, and I feel sorry for the person on the other end of the phone. She had called the coffee chain to complain. Apparently, she had even stormed out of the coffee shop so fast that she left her companion behind (he caught up at the light).
Listening to this tirade, I wonder . . . why? Why was she so angry at someone who didn’t get her complicated order? Is that really worth the energy? She has no idea what the barista’s situation was, or how new she was. And really, it’s a cup of coffee. A. Cup. Of. Coffee. No matter how fancy.
She walked past multiple people who were homeless and struggling to find a bed or, possibly, enough food to keep them alive. Yet, she continued to rage at the poor coffee shop manager about the fancy coffee that she didn’t get.
Why is she so wrapped up in herself? She couldn’t see the disparity between this need for a luxury and the desperation around her? Maybe that luxury meant more to her than I thought, maybe there was some need for the attention that she perceived from the barista. I don’t know, but it got me thinking.
Those of us who do not have to live paycheck-to-paycheck can easily slip into a perspective that loses touch with what’s important in life. We are not in this life alone. Humans do not function well in isolation. Yet, some of us seem to be okay about wrapping ourselves with materialism and a need for material luxuries.
I’m not suggesting that we all embrace minimalism; the gods know that I like my stuff! But we can consider where we focus our attention and our energy. Do we want to spend considerable levels of energy arguing with the manager of a coffee store because someone did not get our complex order perfect? Or a cashier who’s slow to pack our groceries? Or do we instead understand that sometimes mistakes happen and kindly ask for a refund, or enjoy the coffee as made? Do we consider how we waste food when we purchase it or cook it?
The world does not revolve around any specific one of us. Some people have more and less influence on human culture. Still, the world will continue around us no matter how much influence we have. People will find food where they can, and do their best to find shelter for their families. Some of us are in situations that allow us to focus on things that are not specific to survival. Some of us can afford varying levels of luxuries in our lives. And some of us can’t. We each do what we can, but in all cases, our attention is a valuable resource. How and where we spend it deserves our consideration and intention.
So I challenge you, in this season of introspection, to look at how and where you are spending your attention. Does it bring value to you? Does it help you survive or thrive? Or does it just waste time without adding any value? Sometimes scrolling through Instagram or whatever website IS actually useful, but be aware of what value it brings to you.
Your attention is precious. Be intentional where you spend it.