Colleagues are ordering out for coffee this morning. I decline; I don’t drink coffee, only tea. Someone says he only drinks coffee as a distraction. That’s why everyone drinks coffee, I say, or tea, for that matter. Someone else objects; no, it’s a drug, he says. Yes, I say, and drugs are a distraction, a distraction from the ordinary, from the experience of things as they are. But no one is listening anymore.
The American poet William Carlos Williams said, « No ideas but in things. »
In the story of the « desert father » St. Anthony, it is said that in his deep solitude he fought ferocious demons and temptations of all sorts for years and years. Finally, after the battles ended, Anthony asked God where he had been, why he hadn’t intervened to stop his suffering. The answer came: I was with you all along.
Anthony left his « desert. »