I\’m in Queen Anne, sitting in the living room with a cup of coffee made from a moka pot that I haven\’t used since last November. Like most Americans I started drinking coffee from a drip machine, then I used a French press for a while. But then I wanted to get more adventurous without buying an espresso machine, so I bought my moka pot. I then switched to pour overs because they offer the most precise extraction with the least amount of work, and they\’re the best way to enjoy small batch coffee; but then I wasn\’t able to afford expensive coffee anymore, so it hardly mattered. Then I moved in with Caitlin, and now we\’re using her French press because it makes enough coffee for us to have two cups each. Caitlin isn\’t here today, so I\’m using my moka pot for the first time in a while, and it\’s perfect for the cheap, bitter, over-roasted, big-batch coffee that I have been paying too much for.
Saying all of that is making me think about how our environments, especially the objects/tools of our everyday environment are shaped by our fluctuating circumstances.
I think the best things, namely tools, are born out of necessity. When a void/vacuum/negative-charge is created, something eventually comes to fill in the gap. When something is out of tune, my mind quietly says, \”There must be a better way,\” and then it silently stands watch until something comes along. The price of this process is that it requires me/us to consciously reflect on imperfection and incompleteness.
The wrong thing to do is to go out and buy the nicest espresso machine with mere desire and no true need.
Clutter is born from the acquisition of needless tools.
I feel good, quite good. I\’m not sure what to make of it.
I wish I were a productive member of society, but I\’m the happiest I\’ve ever been.
Last week when I went to Chelan, I spoke with a man at a gas station in Cle Elum. He was a self-proclaimed Harley guy who was driving an mid-2000\’s Mazda. He was short, wrinkled, and with white hair, but he was in good shape, with disproportionately large biceps that suited him well.
While I was gearing up he said he really enjoyed the \”freedom\” of riding without a helmet. That word usage struck me as odd. Riding without a helmet isn\’t freedom; but the option to ride without a helmet is freedom. He should feel free if he has the choice to ride with or without a helmet. (In Washington, motorcycle riders are required to wear helmets.)
I think this man is describing something else—a romantic, unrestricted connection with his environment.
I think he made a peculiarly American mistake by confusing freedom with romanticism.
The only time that we can feel freedom is when we open up a new world with tools (e.g. buying a motorcycle or acquiring some other skill) or when we break chains (leaving jail/military). But then the existentialists spend a lot of time describing freedom as nausea and dizziness. I think this is because freedom is possibility, unactualized potential that can leave us overwhelmed and lost.
It is my suspicion that freedom does not feel good except for during its early states. But freedom is good.