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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Carrot, The Egg and The Coffee Bean

Life has a mystical way of revealing itself. Sometimes it uses stories, preaches and casual talks with people you just met, as a mouthpiece. And sometimes it just shows itself in its full glory when you see the day-to-day stuff in a different perspective. I found myself to be witness such a scenario today.

Many of you must have heard of the “Carrot, Egg & Coffee Bean” story. I wasn’t one of you, until I went halfway(page 89, to be precise) through the book “34 Bubblegums And Candies” by Preeti Shenoy.

For those who know the story, skip the entire bold-italicised paragraphs that follow, and those who haven't, please read the following intently.

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed that as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to a boil. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil, without saying a word.
In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She then pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.
Turning to her daughter, she asked, "Tell me, what do you see?"
"Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied.

She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma.
The daughter then asked, "What does it mean, Mother?"

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity -- boiling water -- but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.
"Which are you?" she asked her daughter. "When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?"

Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity? Do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?
Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavour of your life. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate to another level?

So who are you? A Carrot, an Egg or a Coffee Bean?

Everyone likes those “Good days”, when we feel our existence as vital for this World, when this Worlds doings and undoings seems to be connected to us by a divine thread. Those are the days when we like smiling at and/or greeting every passer-by we come across. We are either strong hearted and infallible like the dry Carrot, malleable and fluid like the raw Egg or just mindful of our own business without any will to be noticed, like the coffee beans.

The real test of our character and mettle comes when we are put inside the boiling waters of adversity. When we feel the World has lost it’s need for us, or it’s rebelling against us. When anyone you see reminds you of some bad memory or the other. When you can’t stand being you anymore. How you handle the storm, how you manage to escape, and what you become when it ends, defines what you are, a Carrot, an Egg or as a Coffee bean.

I know people belonging from all the 3 types. I have seen the strongest of people melt like ice and run like mice when adversity bloomed in their life’s garden of peace, never being able to escape from it, no matter how much they tried. I have seen people turning into stones with just one slap of fate’s cruel hand, becoming ruthless, hard-hearted and rendering themselves mute to the softer emotions of life, for eternity. I have also seen people, the ones with veni vici vidi as their life’s motto, who turn adversity into opportunity and see storms as breezes, face it with brevity and grace and set an example for the other 2 categories.

It takes a weak and insecure heart, covered by a make-believe emotion of being strong, to be a carrot. And it takes a big shock and a resulting a sense of losing trust on the grand scheme of the world  to become an egg. But it takes unending courage, strong character and a wholesome amount of grace for someone to be a coffee bean.

But, regardless of what path we choose, life is always about moving on. Its about going on despite what you have to face, with an unfailing hope to see better days and an undeterred spirit of not backing down. To some, I may sound idealistic, but what’s life without a bit of dream!

As Demi Lovato says in her song “Skyscraper”:

You can take everything I have
You can break everything I am
Like I'm made of glass
Like I'm made of paper
Go on and try to tear me down
I will be rising from the ground
Like a skyscraper, like a skyscraper

Demi Lovato – Skyscraper

Life is what you make of it, how you react to it. Life is never easy or hard, it is never simple or complicated. It shows itself to us by the perspective we take to see it. This is the glorious uncertainty of life, the kaleidoscopic versatility of the greatest cosmic marvel God made.

P.S: I am an Egg myself, well… most of the times (there are times I become a carrot or a coffee bean too). Tragedies in my life have made me think that the only way to stand tall in this world is to be stronger than the strongest of mountains, unfazed by Worldly emotions, which only make you weaker and gullible. But being a Egg has its own ramifications. One afternoon I saw a man being ran over by a truck while I was watching by my window. I said to myself, “Well, he’s dead”, closed the curtains and went to sleep.

1 comment:

Lalit said...

Amazing piece of compilation to read and share. Loved it. It has got so much of insight into the realities of life. Great work buddy..