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One Small Change

Life Without Caffeine: Day 4

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I’m finally out the other side, I think. The worst seems to be over. The fog in my head has lifted, just as Dr. Antonio predicted. The reason it’s apparently taken so long is because caffeine has a half-life, just like those radioactive isotopes Homer Simpson brings home. Caffeine’s half-life is about 5 hours, which means that it takes approximately 5 hours for half of the drug to clear from your system, then another 5 hours to get rid of half of what remains, and so on. Considering that I binged on coffee the day before I quit, no wonder it’s taken so long for me to apparently be free of the stuff. But there’s no guarantee it’ll work that way for everybody. The half-life of caffeine can be as long as 10 to 11 hours in women taking oral contraceptives or those who are pregnant. Age and liver function also enter into it.

Let me try to describe how it feels to be caffeine-free, at least this early in my experiment. I certainly feel less wired but at the same time more aware in a calmer, crisper sort of way. I feel like cellophane sounds, if that makes any sense. Maybe the reason I feel so fresh is simply because I forgot what it was like to be decaffeinated. It’s been so long since I’ve been clean perhaps I no longer know my normal self.

How sad is that? During these impersonal times when we try so hard to connect with the world and ourselves, how much sense does it make to be simultaneously imbibing a drug that promotes the exact opposite? Although a cup of coffee certainly encourages us to savor the moment while we’re savoring it, afterwards it propels us through our day. Who knows? Maybe the tradeoff is worth it. Maybe being able to live in the moment for just a few moments is better than never touching that space at all. It reminds me of a column I read in Esquire many years ago in which the writer defended his cigarette addiction by arguing that smoking provided him with a dozen moments in every day that were totally his—sweet snippets of time in which to linger and observe and consider. When described that way it makes you wonder what’s really worse—dying from cancer or from being chronically disconnected. Perhaps, they’re one and the same thing.

Right now, I feel connected in a way I never did on caffeine. Life seems to have become one big moment that I no longer feel compelled to rush through. For the first time in a long time, I am content with the here rather than the there. As a long-ago philosopher once said—no doubt a caffeine agnostic—"there’s a reason we are called human beings and not human doings.”

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About The Author

Joe Kita – Joe Kita is a noted writer, editor, motivational speaker and teacher. He authors the blog "One Small Change" for CorePerformance.com.

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Tags: Caffeine, Beverages