Hello. I'm Jeremy Staples. (Cup # 15)

It's not everyday that you meet someone who has experienced a penetrating eye injury. Nor does each day bring you an encounter with an individual who has single handedly kick started the 'zine' culture in Tokyo, Japan. I suppose these things to be true, only by assuming that most of you have not met Jeremy Staples - so for now, allow me to tell you a little bit about him.

It had only been a day since sitting down with Quentin at Brisbane's 4ZZZ studio - I felt, for the first time since starting all of this, that maybe people are actually interested in the idea of meeting strangers. Not just meeting strangers for tea, but simply the idea that any person is a person worth speaking to - any person is worth your time. I don't think that it took hearing me on the radio to convince Jeremy of this idea, but it certainly sparked his interest enough for him to get in touch.

I didn't know much about Jeremy before we met - but, I tend to prefer it that way if I am honest about it. With less knowledge, I have less ability to make any sort of judgement; and without judgement, and am forced to let each meeting become whatever it will become - stripped of any ability to make it something of my choosing.

My first observation is that Jeremy seemed like a genuinely happy guy - like that kind of guy that lives life by his own set of rules, but a guy who is more than happy to let you be part of this life, if you wish to, of course. We wandered Brisbane's Fortitude Valley for a while, in search of some place suitable for a cup of tea and a bit of the 'getting to know one another' stuff - and while it began to seem that most of the places that Jeremy had in mind were closed,  he pulled an ace out of his sleeve and took me to the Flamingo Cafe, and unsuspecting joint tucked in a back alley off of Winn Street. With a couple of green tea's on the way, Jeremy began to tell me about his adventures in the world of DIY.

Now, I don't mean DIY in the sense that most people know the word. We're not talking home improvements and renovations here. We're talking about a community of artists who create something by their own means, on their own terms, for nobody but themselves, but with a willingness to share their creations with the world. Jeremy's chosen medium is through the creation of 'zines' - or, for those who are unfamiliar, a small circulation self-made publication, usually of minority interest. Jeremy's latest offering, 'Whenever I See a Bearded Hobo On The Street, I'll Think of You and Smile', chronicles three months of his life spent travelling the United States, infiltrating their 'zine' communities, forging lasting relationships with complete strangers, and partying in Portland, Oregon with a tenacity that would make Nikki Sixx proud - the same tenacity that sent shards of wine glass into his eye, dislodging the lens - and resulting in emergency surgery upon his return to Australia.

(If you are at all interested in reading Jeremy's 'Whenever I See a Bearded Hobo On The Street, I'll Think of You and Smile' - send me an email to greg@onehundredcups.com - I'd be more than happy to let you borrow it.)

I could connect with Jeremy on a different level than most of the other strangers I have met thus far. While most of the conversation tends to look forward, to the person I want to become, and to the things I want to accomplish as I become this person - Jeremy helped remind me of the person I was only a few rather short years ago. A young buck, in pursuit of rock stardom, leaving behind the constraints, and the luxuries too, of an ordinary life spent working an ordinary job in exchange for months spent in a van, very little pay (if any at all), and meals care of whatever is open on the side of whatever highway we happened to be driving along. It wasn't a pretty lifestyle - believe me when I say that - but it was fun, and it was ours. Jeremy may not have travelled the world sharing his music, but he lives his life in much the same way. Striving for experience. Always seeking adventure. And perhaps most importantly, always willing to share his stories. As a band, my friends and I shared our stories through our music - Jeremy shares his with his words, and his 'zines'.

Jeremy and I talked for what felt like hours, trading stories of the road. He told me of his time spent in Japan, helping forward the 'zine' community in Tokyo. Of his desire to continue to support the community in Brisbane. His hopes of establishing an independent publishing company. Jeremy is certainly not the kind of person to live within his means - he's the kind of person who creates the means by which to live the life that makes him happy.  And that my friends, is something that we could all benefit from.

After finish our tea at the Flamingo Cafe - we took some time to wander the Valley again - feeling, for some reason, like it wasn't time quite yet for us to part ways. Our wandering took us a to place called Visible Ink – a Brisbane city funded youth space aimed at providing resources and opportunities to youth looking to kick start their business and creative ideas. As it happened, Visible Ink too seemed to be closed for the day – but after sitting outside for a little while, pondering our next move, and lovely lady unlocked the door and invited us in.

'Do you want to make some badges for your project?', Jeremy asked.

Did I ever... 

And so we got two it...

Only hours before, the two of us were complete strangers – we had never laid eyes on one another. Never crossed paths. Had no mutual acquaintances – none that we knew of anyway. But on that Friday morning the week before, as Jeremy sat as he often does listening to 4ZZZ radio, he happened to hear a rather ordinary Canadian fellow (that's me) talking of his desire to meet strangers - to see what opportunities these rather ordinary conversations could lead to. And now, here we were – well acquainted, sharing our thoughts and ideas, and making badges to help me spread the word of my quest to meet 100 strangers.

As the two of us worked away, I was struck by a strange sense of amazement. It's one thing to imagine all the potential for new experience that each day brings – but to take advantage of these opportunities is often a completely different story. The sad truth is that most of us will never take the time to experience all the things that life offers us. We make excuses. We don't have the time, or the energy. We have better things to do. Or that's what we'd like to believe. But there, in that moment - myself on the type-writer, and Jeremy on the button press – I realized how amazing it can be to just let life happen. Not just to take the opportunities that life presents, but to create them. To search for them, and to grab hold and see where they take you. It's a little scary at first, even I'll admit that, but after a while, it becomes normal. And living life the way you once did - saying no to opportunity, and no to chance, and no to life – it becomes impossible.

Try it. Even just for a day. Take a chance on something new. Speak to someone you've never spoken to before. Take a new bus to work. Be late even. Will the world end? Probably not. But you'll never know what opportunities lay ahead unless you develop a willingness to embrace them.

On that day, taking a chance on Jeremy Staples landed me at Visible Ink, making '100 Cups' badges, and getting to know a rather inspirational guy, with lots to offer, and many stories to share. I don't know yet if meeting Jeremy Staples for a cup of tea changed my life - but I know that it got me thinking about it. About the things that I value. About creativity. About the ability that we all have to contribute to something, if only we allow ourselves the time and the freedom to make a contribution. About our ability to live life however we choose - and the sooner we make a choice to live a life filled with the things that make us truly happy, the sooner we can get back to being ourselves.

Where will the next cup take me? I have no idea. But I can't wait to find out...

(Also, if you'd like one of the badges/buttons that Jeremy and I made - send your address to greg@onehundredcups.com and I'll send one your way!)


  1. I think this is my favourite cup of tea story so far...

  2. lovely!! Like your writing style alot :)