Sunday, December 28, 2008

being joe

So, all those bodily fluids on a plane turned out to be worth it. I got to spend Christmas week with a bunch of the people I love most in this world, and then I got to drive back home to Arizona with a couple of those people, laden with gifts and listening to some great old Mojave Desert music like Willie and the Junkies. The snow was waist-high when we finally made it up the mountain, and I'm wondering if I'll ever find my driveway again.

Slept like a petrified tree last night, and when I woke up this morning there was an email in my box from an old college friend. No doubt you've seen it already, but it seems to me at the end of this...unique....year that the message bears repeating. So, here it is - in abridged form:

Basically, there's this young woman who b*tches to her mother about how life is so hard, how she's tired of fighting and struggling, and how it seems like just as one problem gets solved, a new one pops up.
After no doubt rolling her eyes and offering daughter a Midol, Mom takes her daughter to the kitchen for a little Shut-Up-and-Deal-with-It Demo. She brings three pots of water to a boil and puts carrots in the first one, eggs in the second and ground coffee beans in the third.
After about 20 minutes Mom turns off the burners, fishes out the carrots and eggs and places them into a bowl. Then she ladles some coffee into a bowl. "Tell me what you see," she says to her daughter (who, if she is anything like me, also rolls her eyes at this point and tries to remember if she cleaned out the lint basket before starting that last dryer-load of laundry).
"Carrots, eggs, and coffee," the daughter replies.
Mom asks her to feel the carrots which are, of course, soft. Then Mom tells her to break the egg which is, of course, hard-boiled. Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. And here's one of the best parts of the original email: "The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma." (Can you really taste an aroma?) It's followed by another great line: "The daughter then asked, "What does it mean, Mother?"
Anyway, Mom explains that each object faced the same adversity - boiling water - and that each reacted differently. The carrots went in strong, hard, and unrelenting but came out soft and weak. The eggs went in fragile but came out with their insides hardened. The ground coffee, however, actually changed the water itself, bringing us to the Moral of the Story (which is about as subtle as a case of Montezuma's Revenge, but I still like it):
Which are you? When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot that becomes soft and loses its strength? Are you the egg that starts with a malleable heart but becomes hardened after a death, a break-up or financial hardship? Or are you the coffee bean which changes the very circumstance that brings pain, releasing fragrance and flavor? If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you.
I like to think the daughter humored her mother, got the drift and stopped whining. If she's anything like me, though, it will probably take a few more demos.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous5:17 PM

    Great analogy! I'll have to remember that one...and I just happened to be sipping coffee when I read this :)