Thursday, December 20, 2018

The Mug

By Cheryl Oreglia

There is much to notice and observe in life. Is there not? It's what a good story teller does, searching out the disturbing, puzzling, cheerful details in order understand, but the truth is I never completely understand anything. As if an architect, a story teller first builds the foundation, followed by a detailed structure, and only then is the real purpose revealed. 
God is in the details. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (a famous architect) 
I've been taking an online course on creative writing which my kids gave me a few years ago for Christmas. One of the assignments was to take the first letter of your first name, in my case C, as my name is Cheryl, and we were prompted to write a story about the first three things that comes to mind when you consider your letter? If you know me at all you know coffee would dominate the story, maybe we could slip in Christmas, and then we'd be off to the lake, as in Clearlake.

The hidden agenda was to connect the stories with some mundane detail? 

The first thing I notice is the way I sip coffee? It's unusually ritualistic. Gently grasping the small handle on an all white mug, inserting my pointer finger into the perfectly sized hole, I lift the cup as if a sacred vessel, kissing the smooth, hard, porcelain lip. It's strangely carnal? 

My mouth accepts the lukewarm coffee, allowing it to pool under my tongue, before ever so slowly ingesting the tart amber liquid. The movement of my hand reverses the motion returning the cup gently to the nightstand, as I allow my desire for another sip to slowly build, then as if a prayer, my hand returns again, and again to embrace the cup. 

I'm very picky about my mugs as one should be. I like the lip thin, the weight practical for single handed movements, and of course the cup large enough to hold a decent pour. In fact I silently fume when my husband brings me coffee in an unacceptable mug. It's my burden and I bear it silently.

I like repetition. Truth is I adore repetition. It sustains me and it fails me all at the same time.

This coffee tradition is a morning activity, infusing me with something akin to joy, as my brain unravels from its slumber, and the obligations of the day slowly encroach on my muddled, and complacent mind.

What does that remind you of? 

Yes, Christmas of course. The most ritualistic of holidays, so entrenched are we in our ritualistic behaviors, we will go to extreme measures to ensure the continuation of these cherished traditions. We are not above brawling, guilting, and ransoming those we love to ensure cooperation. I know, I'm a mother.

Advent, a time of waiting, anticipation, and joy. It's as if I have slumbered all year, desperately in need of Christmas to shake up my muddled and complacent mind. The darkest of days juxtaposed with the light coming into the world is intoxicating. Our hardened hearts slowly kneaded by the reign of God, it's a cathartic, poignant, gift. 

The day after Christmas we pack up our shiny new toys, fill our mugs with fresh coffee and head to the lake, Clearlake. As I bring my mug from cup holder to lip, I'm aware of the hand of God that moves us from complacency to peace, the conveyance of story teller that drives us from a standard reality, to edifying and mysterious places. 

Great writers painstakingly construct their fiction with small but significant details that, brushstroke by brushstroke, paint the picture the artist hopes to portray, the strange or familiar realities of which they hope to convince us; details of landscape and nature, of weather, of fashion, of home, of drink, of botany, of music, art, of all the things with which we humans express our complex individuality says Francine Prose. 

Those seemingly simple but well chosen details shed light on our character, hopes, dreams, and vision of life. To shed a more powerful light on seemingly simplistic behaviors, that mold, define, and shape not only our comprehension, but our appreciation for the precious gift of life. The details are not only the building blocks of how we put our story together, but clues to something deeper, a glimpse into that which holds us, our favorite mug. 

What are three things associated with the first letter of your first name? Leave a few details in the comments! Merry Christmas all. 

When I'm not writing for Across the Board, I'm Living in the Gap, drop by anytime. 


Charlotte LLoyd, Realtor said...

Merry Christmas!!! Great article as usual. Missed you at the gingerbread house making.

Cheryl Oreglia said...

Merry Christmas Charlotte! Thank you. We had a conflict this year and couldn’t make the gingerbread event but we’re sure to be back next year! I’m looking forward to spending time at the lake while I’m on holiday from my classes! Let me know if you’re up we’ll meet up at a winery! 🍷

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