This morning I was writing at my favorite coffee shop when a cute Latin woman with big, bright eyes and rosy cheeks sat down at the table across from me. She pulled a sketch book out of her backpack and began looking around the room. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her look in my direction, study my posture, smile, and begin sketching.
We sat there next to each other for nearly three hours while she sketched and I wrote. And as I shifted back and forth, engrossed in thought, I felt a bit self-conscious. Because I could feel her watching me as she practiced her art.
But I wasn’t too worried because I hadn’t planned on talking to her. After all, she seemed completely satisfied sketching in silence, and smiling at her sketches and at all of the other people who surrounded us. I did, however, glance up a few times just to see her smile. Because her smile expressed a kind of passion I seldom see.
All of the World’s Beauty
A few moments later another customer came into the coffee shop and let a gust of wind in the front door. The wind blew a completed sketch right off of the Latin woman’s table and onto the floor in front of me. The sketch was rather amazing. It perfectly depicted a man who looked a lot like me typing on a laptop computer.
I looked up at the Latin woman and smiled. “Who’s that sharp-looking guy?”
She giggled and rolled her eyes. “I don’t know,” she replied. “He’s just a fairy tale character.” She then handed me a few of the other sketches she’d been working on. One of them was of the barista behind the cash register and the others were of other customers in the coffee shop.
“Wow!” I exclaimed.
She sighed, smiled, and said, “Sometimes I wish that I could capture all of the world’s beauty in my sketches, but I’ve come to realize that it’s simply impossible. So capturing still-frames of beautiful moments is what I settle for.”
I told her that all of the world’s beauty actually is captured in every sketch that perceives a moment just as beautiful. And that her sketches are truly beautiful, just like her smile… because they reveal a gift and a passion to see beauty in common places – a beauty most of us overlook.
She giggled again and said, “My mother once told me that beauty occurs when time ceases to exist. And if she’s right, then perhaps my sketches are beautiful. Because, for me, time ceases when I try to bridge my perceptions with the moments unfolding around me.”
I chuckled aloud and then turned my laptop around so that she could read the words I had written just moments before: “Time ceases to exist when she engages in this moment, because she wants nothing more than the beauty this moment has to offer.”
“Who is she?” she asked.
“She’s just a fairy tale character others will read about… and metaphor for hope to me,” I replied with a wink.
She winked back, as if to prove that she wasn’t just a metaphor. And before I could even smile, I suddenly sneezed. She laughed and told me that for just a moment in mid-sneeze I looked like Tarzan, and asked if I could hold that pose so she could sketch me looking like Tarzan.
I told her that I didn’t mind holding a mid-sneeze pose for a few minutes. Because as she sketched, I got a chance to see the look in her eyes. You know the look I’m talking about… it’s the look when beauty is perceived, time ceases to exist, and fairy tale characters come to life.