Our cabinet overflows and I am forced to find alternate locations for our coffee mugs. I myself drink from one of two mugs daily: a 10oz orange one with a gently dimpled surface (I like this one for the invigorating color, ergonomically shaped handle and it’s slightly-smaller-than-normal manufacture, so it looks completely full with a Keurig pod and the perfect amount of cream), or an archetypal, white drugstore mug stamped with an image of Superman (I favor this one because… Superman). And yet, there are currently 21 mugs in our possession, not counting the ones my mother has commandeered over the years. My parents' collection is even more developed, and they have just installed a hand-crafted wall mount to house the overflow.
Finally, I allow myself to ask a simple question: WHY?!
I only ever use 2 of these mugs and never suffer a lack from this meager allotment. Assuming this ratio is reasonable, and that my wife, being a reasonable woman, uses them at the same rate as I, I am led to believe that our two-member family could not only survive, but thrive, with no more than 4 mugs!
When I inquire of a friend about this vexation, he replies, “Ah, you know, women and their coffee mugs.” I reject this notion both for its misogynistic overtones, and because I believe it aims at a single stem rather than the root of the issue at hand. I theorize that we favor popular aesthetic not only before functionality, but, in some cases, in place of it.
Men and women alike suffer from this ailment in a variety of instances, but, for the sake of continuity, let us proceed with the parable of my coffee mug infestation.
There is a pair of mugs hanging just to the right of our kitchen sink, above the Keurig, laced with our initials, “J” and “M.” They are heavy, with a wide base, much larger than any single cup of coffee should be, and with room for only one finger in the handle. They do not leak, and are therefore fruitful, but are rarely used due to their clumsy design. Beautifully gold-embossed aestheticism came before functionality.
We also have a travel mug from the most overrated coffee purveyor in existence. It is cheaply made of flimsy plastic, conducts all it’s heat directly to my palm and has the thermal fortitude of a Capri-Sun. It is also prone to spillage, as the snap-on lid only mostly fits. Nonetheless, it was purchased, no doubt for its easily identifiable insignia: aesthetics instead of function.
Now apply this principle to our cars, our homes, our clothes, our schools, our restaurants… Are we spending and accumulating for needs or for status? Could we not only survive, but thrive, with fewer logos? I think, perhaps, there is something greater in store for us than a water-tight ceramics collection. We can store up something lasting; something eternal.
For just one moment, allow yourself to think forever and imagine stewarding for your Savior in favor of your next favorite coffee container.