Awe in the Ordinary
🛑Stop 🛑Before you scroll past this seemingly ordinary, crooked cup of random-stale-50s-diner coffee, give me a chance to explain my wonder with it.
I’m on my way from Vegas to San Louis Obispo for facilitator training. Hungry and pee-pee-y I pulled into a tiny town off the highway and entered a cute cafe with ripped leather booths and home-made pies on display. It looked straight out of the movies.
I sat down and immediately opened my laptop. No wifi. Frantically, I started banging away at my keyboard, attending to my always endless to-do List. It always feels like climbing an escalator going down. I should know, I’ve tried before (don’t ask).
A waitress came over who reminded me of my grandma – they both had a kind smile and say we voice. Can I get you something to drink? Coffee please. With the pot already in her hand she gave me a wink. She placed her fingers on the coffee saucer and pulled towards her knocking the cup outside of the grooves. She poured the coffee and left.
I turned back to my computer but paused. I remembered my motto of slowing down, taking my time, and... enjoying. I took a deep breath in and exhaled. I got present with my surroundings— the smell of French friend, clinging silverware, and the sun creeping through the shades onto my table. Again, my attention went back to the coffee cup.
This time I saw it’s details. The way it was balancing on the saucer. The drip of coffee running down the side of the cup. The chip on handle. I wonder how many people have sipped out of this very glass? And the woman waitress, I wonder how many cups of coffee she’s poured? I wonder who she’s met passing through, just like me. I wonder if she’s happy? Suddenly this ordinary cup of coffee felt beautiful and awe inspiring.
“This cup has seen some shit!” I thought to myself. Awake and present, I went back to my to do list but it felt different. I was grateful for my alone time, I was appreciative of the warmth of the sun, and I was open to genuinely connecting with Sandra, the woman who poured my coffee. And wouldn’t know it, I got everything I wanted to done.
As I ate my grilled veggie sandwich with way too much Kraft cheddar cheese, I reflected back on my experience with this cuppa coffee sitting in front of me. I thought about how often we get caught up in what we have to do, that we don’t see the beauty happening around us.
The real tragedy is when we do this to the people in our lives. Most often, it’s the ones who mean the most that get pushed to the side when our to do list gets too demanding. “They’re not going anywhere,” we unconsciously tell ourselves. And there they are, right in front of us, desperately wanting to be seen in all their beauty and their depth, yet we make them feel as if they are just ordinary objects.
When was the last time you slowed down enough to allow someone to strike you with awe? Or the last time you were so present with curiosity that you learned something new about an old friend?If you want to be the kind of relationship worth having, be generous with your attention.
Because I was so inspired and moved by my coffee, I forgot to drink it. By the time I was done with my sandwich, I knew it would be cold. Yet, I’d learn something—be open to being surprised, right?
(Slurp) 🤭... it was not good. 🤗 but I was happy.