I am totally taken by coffee art. It's not the skill that's required, so much (although, obviously, there are some insanely skilled latte artists out there). It's more the act of doing it. I mean, honestly, it's such an unnecessary thing: it doesn't enhance the flavour of the coffee in any way, and once my cappuccino or latte tastes right, I'm satisfied. I can think of many a non-coffee-art-making institutions that have fully met my caffeinated drink expectations. But coffee art -- the care with which a barista creates it, and the final result -- just seems like such a lovely, gratuitous little kindness. It's like creator is saying "Here's your coffee -- oh, and a little bit of ephemeral art for you to enjoy. No extra charge."
I've been thinking recently of a conversation I had a few years ago with Arun Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi.
We happened to be speaking at the same conference, and I had the opportunity to have a cup of tea with him before we were scheduled to speak. During our time together, he shared with me a philosophy that his grandfather had taught him: his grandfather said that the gifts we have aren't ones that we own outright; rather, we are trustees of these gifts, and so we are called upon to use these gifts to help each other while we're here on this earth.
They're gifts. We don't own them.
I've been thinking about these words as I consider the direction I want my work to take for 2015, this question of what I consider to be my gifts, and how I want to use them. To be honest, I've been obsessing about this, lately. And as long as I'm being frank, I confess that it's horrifyingly easy for me to get all caught up in complicated, existential, mind-knotting ideas when I start thinking about these things. But then, my latte this morning reminded me that using your gifts and your skills to help others doesn't have to be made up of grand, sweeping gestures.
Maybe if your gift or your skill has the capacity to simply give someone else the chance to appreciate the present moment, it might just be enough.
Song: All the right places by Zach Heckendorf