Lessons Learned From Coffee Art. For Mason and Holly

There is a place around the corner from us where we get our coffee. We don’t go there everyday as coffee ain’t cheap so we reserve it for when we really feel like something that doesn’t taste like drain water with sugar and milk.

I bring up the coffee shop because of the little Mayan fellow who works there. On the days when he makes my coffee I almost always get some work of art splayed briefly through the foam, I say briefly because I take sugar with my coffee.

Over the last few months I have contemplated this little fella (I know it may sound somewhat impolite to refer to him as the little fella, but he is little in stature and a fact should not be misconstrued as an insult) and his coffee creations. More than a few times I have found one of these marvelous images in my coffee, looked over at his beaming face filled with pride and thought, “Good work mate, but doesn’t it bother you that I am about to dump sugar on top of it and stir?” Recently, with the passing of my nephew Mason, this thought has come to the fore, and its answer has become a more meaningful rule of thumb for life.

One of the ways we as humans measure the worth of things, is by how long they last. By doing so we overlook what makes anything worth having in this life, how much joy it or they might bring us. Times importance is greatly over-valued. Nothing lasts for ever, not us or the things we create. That does not change their worth.

You see, this guy, Rene, who works at the coffee shop around the corner from me and likely gets paid a pittance in relation to Western salaries, is fantastically proud of what he creates, no matter how briefly they exist. And when he creates one of these little works of art for me. I look down at it and smile, and when I look up, he is standing there with a smile twice the size of mine, wonderfully proud of what he has created. It doesn’t seem to matter to him that I am the only person who will likely see it, and it doesn’t matter to him that I am about to pour two sachets of sugar over the top and stir my coffee. He created something beautiful, something he can be proud of. He brightened someones day and made the world a better place by being passionate and bringing something unique into the world. Even if it is for the shortest of moments.

Yesterday he came over to the table where Taunee and I sat and started talking to us. I say talking, but with his broken English and my never there in the first place Spanish it was more like a gesture filled guess-a-thon. Regardless, one thing was clear. He was proud of his creations. He is of Mayan heritage and actually speaks the language, and he lives here in Playa with his wife and little girl. He told me this while scouring his phone for pictures of his creations. Every now and then he would stop what he was saying, give me his phone and with a big smile, say “Planets”, or “Penguin” or some equally unlikely thing to find staring up at you from a latte.

His creations last only briefly, which for something created with so much love and pride can seem like a shame. But his foam pictures are not created to reach the biggest audience possible, they are not created to be enjoyed for all time. They exist briefly, they give him something to be proud of, and they make anyone who gets to experience them feel good, and no matter how brief there is infinite worth in that.

Time is a terrible measure of value. Holly, you created an amazing person and you shared his existence with the world, something you can be very proud of. His time was brief, but from what I can tell, brought infinite happiness to you and those that got to know him. He will be missed greatly because of how great it was to have him, even if it was only for the briefest of moments.

“The important thing is not how many years in your life but how much life in your years.”

~Edward J. Stieglitz

26 Comments
  • Rob
    Posted at 18:30h, 10 June Reply

    Sorry for your loss. Very touching touching and beautifully written.

  • Sarah
    Posted at 20:25h, 10 June Reply

    So true and so beautiful. I had similar thoughts about that guy myself but you have expressed it perfectly. Love you xxx
    Sarah recently posted…Lessons from the RainMy Profile

    • Tyrhone
      Posted at 00:26h, 11 June Reply

      Thanks Jane, you find revelations in the most unexpected places sometimes.

  • Jill
    Posted at 22:40h, 10 June Reply

    Hi Tyrone, I am sorry to hear about your loss. But on a positive note, this post is very insightful and inspiring. Your posts recently have been excellent and I look forward to seeing your blog pop up in my emails. Keep them rolling 🙂 Jill

    • Tyrhone
      Posted at 00:27h, 11 June Reply

      Thank you Jill, that is much appreciated and thanks for reading.

  • mum
    Posted at 00:04h, 11 June Reply

    Tykes, this is so lovely for all of you, and that special love of Holly and her son Mason will always be a shining star in her heart, love to you, Sarah and Holly, xxxx

  • Kim
    Posted at 00:53h, 11 June Reply

    Tyrhone, what a beautiful tribute to your nephew. I’m keeping you and Sarah and your families in my thoughts.

    • Tyrhone
      Posted at 01:53h, 11 June Reply

      Thanks Kim, that is much appreciated.

  • Melody Kleiber
    Posted at 01:29h, 11 June Reply

    You certainly have a way with words TT, this is one of the best posts I have ever read and I will be bookmarking it for future reading and sharing x

    • Tyrhone
      Posted at 01:55h, 11 June Reply

      Thank you very much Melody, that is nice to hear. It seems easier to write when it is about something which matters.

  • Kelly ford
    Posted at 02:40h, 11 June Reply

    Just beautiful!

  • Erin HT
    Posted at 03:06h, 11 June Reply

    Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful… I had a little tear or 2 as I read it! Mason seemed to have touched so many people in his short life… And as someone who tries to create coffee art in my own home every morning I truly appreciate that guy’s skill… (The closest I get is a blob I can occasionally pretend is a love heart…) x

    • Tyrhone
      Posted at 15:14h, 11 June Reply

      Thank you Erin. He seemed like a cool kid, he had a self confident maturity that most don’t develop until much older. And I’m sure even the mightiest of Barista’s started out with blob hearts.

  • Pam
    Posted at 04:00h, 11 June Reply

    Very Beautifully put Thyrone.

  • Brian
    Posted at 05:02h, 11 June Reply

    Extremely well said, mate. I am terribly sorry for your loss – I will be keeping you and your family in my thoughts.
    Brian recently posted…Unwanted Advice: Abandon Your PlansMy Profile

    • Tyrhone
      Posted at 15:19h, 11 June Reply

      Thanks Brian, appreciate that mate.

  • Carmel
    Posted at 05:16h, 11 June Reply

    I lay here reading this simple, but touching, story with tears streaming down my face. Many memories for me this weekend as I visit my family and remember the reasons we have been brought together in the recent past….but I truly cherish even these limited times with them because beyond the drama and sadness, they are all beautiful and caring souls who have made my life richer and more meaningful just by being there. What a lovely way to make a tribute to your nephew.

    • Tyrhone
      Posted at 15:23h, 11 June Reply

      Thank you Carmel. Families will always have drama, we are after all such different people. My family has had no end of drama but we all know that we can count on each other when it matters. All the best to you and yours.

  • Lauren @Roamingtheworld
    Posted at 15:34h, 21 June Reply

    What a beautiful tribute to your nephew!

    Thanks for the reminder that sometimes in life are only fleeting moments and despite that in the Western world we unfortunately put value on “duration” and “cost” rather than their worth in happiness. I love how you focus on something so simple and share the artwork in your coffee cup even if it’s only for you and the artist and for a short moment.

    Life is truly about the little things!

  • Holly (aka SOS)
    Posted at 13:59h, 10 June Reply

    Tyrhone, aka BOS, thank you for such an incredbly post for Mason and for me. I loved it then, but love it even more now that I can fully appreciate and absorb what you wrote. I miss u and Sada. Hope I can come visit u soon. Cannot believe it has been 2 years already since Mason left. I had a dream about him last night- we were heading off on an adventure and both of us were so happy. I miss him. I’m thankful for posts like this… They comfort me in unexplainable ways. ❤️

  • Rhonda
    Posted at 14:30h, 10 June Reply

    Hey Tryhone…. somehow I just came across this old post, shortly after Mason passed, but I think the meaning is as clear today (and to all of us) as it was then. Time is short.. even if we live to be 90, in the grand scheme of the universe that is a mere pinprick in time. Your coffee shop guy, making a frugal living, is still a happy man because he is creating art and making his customers smile each day. In that sense, he is probably a much happier guy than the average America (Australian, Brit, name a country), who is forever obsessing about the future and the stuff thought to be necessary for happiness. A lovely tribute.
    Rhonda recently posted…A Look Back ~ and ForwardMy Profile

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