The world in a cup of coffee

With all the busyness of life around us, it is easy to get lost in the trees and lose our ability to see and appreciate the forest, the bigger picture. This metaphor may not be the best one to use, because I love being in the trees. Go with me on this—substitute weeds for trees, just for this article. Sometimes we simply take things for granted, or lose our ability to recognize the miracles all around us.

For this juncture of life, I have a remedy. Let’s look at the miracle of a cup of coffee in the morning. What is required to make a cup of coffee in the morning? It turns out that your cup of coffee in the morning—or tea, requires everything in our universe, everything from here to the stars.

A cup of coffee needs the sun, for example—150 million kilometers from Earth. Our sun is required to grow coffee trees, and every other plant on earth. A cup of coffee needs the clouds and the oceans and the rivers, to bring water to the trees. Coffee trees need soil, soil that is enriched from millions of dying things that decompose and create a living system of millions of micro-organisms, like worms and many other critters that aerate the soil. Even if that miracle somehow occurs, and someone somewhere decides to grow coffee trees, how does it get to your house? It takes thousands of people to get it there, from farmers and processors, and all the people who make all the products required to make it happen, like the sacks to put the coffee beans in for shipping, coffee cups and spoons, milk and sugar, trucks and gasoline to get the beans to market, and coffee machines and everything in between.

If you dive into any one of these items, like milk for example, you'll be heading down an endless rabbit hole of more things we need to make a cup of coffee. Everything in our world is woven together, interconnected and interdependent, and you need it all for that cup of coffee in the morning. The sun and the clouds and the rivers have stirred your coffee, with love. Honestly, it takes the entire universe to make that cup of coffee or tea be there for you in the morning.

Seeing the world in this way is to see the forest, and to do this we must hike out of the trees and rise above to see what is there and see the absolute truth of our world, the impermanence of all things, the interconnection of all things. If we take the time to see the “forest view” of our work, for just a moment, we can see the bigger picture. Sometimes, when we are working as a group, we need to pick up our chairs and arrange them in a big half moon—a half circle, and sitting there together, we can then see ourselves facing the same direction, the same destiny, and together, we can move forward with this new view of how things work in this world.

The End