As a writer, I sometimes find myself compelled to create things, to put words down, even though I’m not exactly sure why. I’m not exactly sure what it is I need to say so badly, what it is I am trying to express – there are simply words there, somewhere deep inside, asking to be written. And so I write them.
I find this often happens to me in life as a whole. In moments I don’t quite expect, when I can’t quite be sure why, I will find myself compelled to make a particular decision, go to a certain place, talk to a certain person.
And what I’ve learned is that, if I obey the calling, if I listen to my heart and follow her lead, I find myself directly in the middle of a miracle.
What is a miracle?
I will ask you to tell me.
When you look out into the world, what miracle is it that you see?
In your day? In your life? In your week?
For me, on Tuesday night, it began when I sat in my hotel room at the Marriott San Jose at a ridiculously late hour. I had been fighting a headache most of the day, brought on by the disruption to my normal coffee routine (you never mess with a Starbuckian’s coffee routine). I had taken a few pain killers, and yet still no relief. Later that evening, while mingling with the other partners who had recently arrived here in Origin with me, I half jokingly said I would write another blog post if my headache cleared up.
A few hours later, it did. Apparently my heart wasn’t kidding when she asked me to start writing…
And so despite the late hour, despite the looming arrival of an early morning and a full day, I sat down and wrote.
I wrote because of that voice, that little intuition inside had been pestering me all day. “Write some fiction, it’s been too long, you know,” she said. “Just a short story, it will hardly take you any time. Tonight you have the freedom, the liberty, to tell any story you want about the farmers. No truth, just imagination. Write.”
My mind protested my heart’s encouragement. “But I have no idea what I am even writing. What story am I supposed to tell?” I asked her.
“Don’t you worry about that, just write. I promise you, you will know what to say,” she responded.
And so I did. I sat in my hotel room, in the heart of this beautiful country, and I sunk into the moment; into the breeze floating through the terrace window, into the sounds that color the darkness of the night, into the ten years of imagination and coffee knowledge that has been brewing in my mind. I called the words forward and I wrote.
What emerged was a story about a fictional character named Romero, an expression and an illustration of the love that I imagine a coffee grower has for his trees, for his farm, for his living.
It was two days later, that I realized I had mis-named my fictional character, and that in fact he was not fiction at all.
I stood at the Chacon family farm on Thursday while Ernesto, the owner, told us the details of his life. As he explained about the terrible impacts of the coffee leaf rust fungus, his son, Alonzo, heir to the family’s 10 acre farm, pulls a branch off a nearby tree to show us the disease.
He holds it up on display, eager to share about his family’s hardships and realities with the group of 50+ onlookers. Ernesto then continues talking about the farm, and all attention turns back to him. But I am still watching Alonzo.
I am watching Alonzo, off to the side, as he begins to turn the branch over in his hands, examining the stems and the leaves, lost in a world of his own.
Time stands still as he stares down at the branch, twirling it quietly between his two calloused fingers. I look at him and I see only one thing:
On Tuesday night, I thought I had written a work of fiction.
It turns out I had written a work of truth; I just hadn’t met the main character yet.
And that, my friends, is a miracle to me.