Truly Powerful People (447)

Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

It turns out that my new friend, the professor of Chinese history, is an historian whose reach far eclipses the annals of China. He can pull from is inner archive a complete history of the most obscure topic. He is a gifted storyteller so his history is more adventure than lesson, more tale than fact. I delight in the stories that bubble from the depths of his history pool. Had I met him when I was younger I might have taken another path.

On our drive to Olympia early this morning I learned that my coffee addiction is thanks to an Ethiopian goat herder of the 9th century. Apparently, according to legend, the goat herder noticed that his goats grew hyperactive – some accounts say the goats jumped – every time they ate the red berries (coffee beans) from a certain plant. The goat herder ate the berries and they made him want to jump, too. He picked the berries, took them to a cleric who deemed them evil and threw them in the fire. Ahhhh. The smell of roasted coffee beans filled the air. The smell was so tempting that the goat herder rescued the beans, ground them, and added hot water! Viola! 12 centuries later I am a coffee addict living in a city with a Starbucks on every corner. My life is richer for the keen eye and happy accident of a long gone goat herder whose heart beat faster when he dared sample a mystery bean. If my family had a coat-of-arms our sigil would be a jumping goat.

In the late 1980’s one of my favorite documentary series was James Burke’s Connections. In each episode he’d trace the ripples of a single innovation through time, how the stirrup started a chain of events that eventually led to the microwave oven (I made that up but you get the point). Jean Houston wrote that we are the burning point of the ancestral ship; we are the living spark of a torch that goes back before recorded time. When I am with my friend the history professor I am reminded how intimately connected I am to ripples in all directions that I can’t even comprehend. I am located in web of meaningful connections. I am a goat herder whose happy accident of a life might send a ripple 12 centuries into the future that could bring joy to the heart of someone I will never know. And, what I love most about that thought is there may be a 33rd century historian who might one day say, “You know where that comes from don’t you?”

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