On a particularly gray day in Tokyo, I wandered down an alley I thought I’d never dare darken.
I’d finally chosen to visit Mocha Coffee in Daikanyama after five years of being too intimidated. Wedged between boutiques, this Yemeni café housed in a solarium-like nook was nothing to fear. The air filled with magic and the smell of Arabic coffee as I ordered a piece of Belgian chocolate cake.
This coffee sourced from Yemen brings traditional Middle Eastern methods to Tokyo. Arabic coffee. Simple. Refined. The café’s website explains each variety of beans: from the Malala beans with red wine notes to the Matari region with hints of fruity aromas.
The beans sent across the Red Sea from Yemen were nicknamed “Arabian wines.”
Years past, it was my verbally abusive boyfriend that threatened me to stay away from this place. I’d obeyed. For years. What was there to fear in this out-of-the-way café? An empty threat. A rumor. The words of someone long past that I’d let dictate my actions until now.
I’d let something someone once said deter me from action. Until now.
Powerful things words, aren’t they?
Approaching this café down the little alley made my heart flutter. The shard of that past opinion fluttered, still lodged in my chest. I was warned to stay away. I’d let the words instill fear, the little comment nagging in my mind. It was hidden, waiting for its time to hatch.
As I sipped my brew inside, I grew in clarity. The speaker was long gone, but his words lingered. I began questioning. How much of life is shaped by the words and opinions of others? How often do I act without question?
The importance of choosing life’s influencers grew clear. We should prioritize protecting ourselves from speakers of careless, errant words. In the Bible, the verse Proverbs 27:17 claims, “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”
Books like “Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Healthy Life” speak of longevity in the Blue Zones of the world thanks to tightly knit community bonds. Our communities are crucial. They shape us, support us, turning their ideas into our own. Some of their messages ring true, but it’s always integral to question them.
We run the risk of living small lives if we simply absorb what we’re told without question.
Where else shall I go despite the opinions of others? What else should I do despite their effort instill doubt or fear? Similarly, what have I done because my community encouraged my success? How have they given me words that became wings? It’s our own personal responsibility to push past preconceptions, through fear.
We are in charge of surrounding ourselves with people who will make us soar, not sink in life.
Research claims that the first three to five seconds are our most viable for action, after that our brains throw emotions at us to slow us down.
Finishing the last bites of my cake, I scanned the menu of Middle Eastern desserts while resolving to choose my company more wisely. I gathered my things with a newfound determination to never let anyone stand between myself and a piece of chocolate cake like that ever again.