I recall a friend giving a blessing before dinner, “ bless this food, bless the farmer who grew it, bless our host who prepared it,” and more.

The vision I created was that one farmer grew the basket of food and somehow it was shipped to our table. I started to expand my list of people to acknowledge, and over time it has become immense: the farmer(s), the packing house, the food brokerage firm, the quality control inspectors – each consisting of multiple contributors to my world.

My mathematical mind started to quantify the number of people that participated in my morning breakfast. I was prepared to say that more than 1,000 contributed. Yes, somebody picked the Sumatra coffee bean, but what about the people that planted the tree, then those that nursed the trees with water, then those that built the dam that provided a reservoir?

The number kept increasing, it had to be 10,000 or more now.

Unfortunately, I remembered about the insurance people as I was sorting my bills: the agent, the major company that insures the farmers and packers. And OMG, the millions of stockholders in the insurance company.

As the numbers exploded, I was thinking that I might need something other than coffee. How about the fuel for the trucks? It wasn’t one person in Oklahoma that participated, maybe it was only another 100,000, plus stockholders; and how about the folks that built, sold and delivered the trucks? And the roads? Another 100k each. And the taxpayers that made the roads and infrastructure? It couldn’t be more than 330 million.

As my breakfast room was starting to get a little crowded, I recalled the classic line written by John Donne, “send not to ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.” As a bell rang, I remembered that Peet’s has a good Sumatra decaf, I better get some soon.

Rich Meyer, Blogger & Author.