Fika & This Moment
Updated: Apr 30, 2019
After Cambodia, the next two weeks seemed to be a consistent blur of bliss, intent, and joy… sprinkled with bits of frustration and grit.
I sat at my computer wondering how I was going to sum up the last two weeks of the trip in a way that wasn't just going on and on about volleyball and each team we played, boring the few people that actually read my blog.
Instead, I want ot share what I learned from the final weeks of Lara and I’s big trip around the world; how to be in the moment.
Being in the moment reminds me of that old country song by Brad Paisley… just when he thought he loved her, he found himself loving her more. Weird analogy, but bear with me. Just when I thought I was being mindful about my life, I found a whole new level of mindfulness and I didnt even realize it until there was a word to finally give it some permanence and something for my brain to grab onto. Fika.
Fika is a Swedish coffee break that is known as a time to slow down, have a cup of coffee or tea and a snack and take the time to unwind and enjoy the moment. Fika is about slowing down. Coffee represents a true break, a moment to sit and contemplate on your own, or to gather with friends.
In our own culture, where coffee has come to be more about grabbing a 16-ounce-grande-whatever, in a paper cup to go, coffee is more about fueling up and going fast. In Sweden coffee is something to look forward to, a moment where everything else stops and you savor the moment. In today’s modern world we crave a little bit of that; we want an excuse to slow down.
Much of what Lara and I talked about on the trip was each little moment that led to another bigger moment. The moment before the match that leads into the preparation of the entire match, the moment before the ball is served that leads to how you pass the ball, the moment before you serve that leads into your offense, the moment you wake up in the morning and decide how your day is going to go and how that leads into your mentality for the day and affecting your emotions, personality and choices for the day.
Each little moment leads to how you can alter your mindset and, eventually, your life. Tony Robbins said it best, “You can change your life in a moment.” I didn’t realize it until I was sitting in the middle of Stockholm, learning about this word; Fika. Fika is more than just a coffee break, it is a symbol for being in the moment and not letting any outside factors affect it.
I was also fortunate enough to meet a man named James while I was in Sweden. James lives on a boat that is docked in the harbor of Stockholm and considers his life to be an elongated version of fika.
I was sitting on a bench in front of James's boat in Sweden when he sat on the bench next to me and, I’m assuming in Swedish, asked me how I was doing. I gave him a confused, apologetic look and he then asked, in English, where I was from. Our dialogue began with an introduction, learning the formalities about each other, and then he asked what brought me to the docks. I just wanted a quiet place to listen to the water and the boats reminded me of my parents and it was a nice thing to be reminded of because I was pretty homesick at that point. He laughed and told me that I had sat down right in front of his boat and asked if I wanted a tour of it and a cup of coffee. You already know I said yes. James and I talked for the better part of two hours about his life, his kids, his late wife, his many odd jobs, and how life should be lived. “Too many people are too worked up, trying to have the most to boast about, but according to what standard?,” James said. “I worked all my life and really only loved my wife, my kids and sailing. I was a good father, unconditional lover of my wife and damn good sailor, but I never chased any passion of sailing or winning any Man of the House award. Now, still love my wife, my kids are grown, and I’m just now doing what I’m passionate about.” James found his passion at 76, after many careers, losing his wife, losing himself and finding himself again in his first love, sailing. He now sails around the island that make up Stockholm, as well as the rest of Sweden, drinking coffee on his boat, making the absolute most of every sweet moment he is given.
I didn’t know it at the time, but an older couple that Lara and I met in Athens, Greece had a pretty great grasp on what James was trying to tell me too; live a life based around fika.
The old couple, I kid you not, had spent a ton of time in New Mexico working with Cesar Chavez when he was part of the “Four Horseman” during the Chicano Movement and served as part of the defense attorney’s team.
After a long story about their impressive endeavors in northern New Mexico and incredibly decorated attorney resumes and careers, they told us that none of that really mattered in the grand scheme of things. They’re more proud of what they’re doing now: traveling the world and following their passions, taking special high-profile cases.
They then complimented Lara and I for chasing our dreams at such a young age and told us to enjoy this moment in our lives and to worry about meeting the status quo and getting locked down careers for when we’re 40 and boring…
It was exactly what we needed to hear. It was a moment of fika without even knowing it.
Our entire trip had been about pouring everything into each point, each moment, each game.
Our lives should be about pouring all we can into each moment, each endeavor, each relationship, each passion… if not, why even bother with it? It won’t serve you and you’ll only get back what you put in.
For me, fika became a gentle reminder to be in the Now. My time with James was a message from God to open my eyes, but not to see the big picture, instead to see the beauty and complexities of each day and to serve each one. Our interaction with the old couple was a reminder to cherish this chapter, even however scary it may be sometimes. Volleyball became more intimate when put in this perspective, with each play being completely separate from the last and more intent put into each movement. Volleyball became a reflection of life and life became a reflection of how I played volleyball. It’s also no surprise that I happened to be reading a book during this point in the trip, The Mindful Athlete, that talks a lot about how there is no difference between who you are on and off the court. I don’t believe in coincidences, friends...
I hope you can read this blog post and find more time for fika in your life. Stop and have 10 minutes of coffee with a loved one, or alone, to sip and breathe. Let that time of intimacy play into the rest of your day, allowing you to take each task the rest of the day with more intent, more pride. Let your pride in your work bleed into the love you pour into it and that love overflow into the rest of your life. Let your life be a series of loving moments; love the big, scary moments, the precious ones, the slow ones, the stressed ones and the moments you used to blow through. Practice fika. Be fika. Enjoy fika.
And if you get a chance, go to Sweden… you will not be disappointed!