When I was the President of the Parents Association of the private school that my 3 children attended, I used this story as part of my speech to the parent body at the fall supper. I am sure that many were familiar with it. However, I believe that it is has a very strong message that is worth repeating and doing so at various times throughout the course of one’s life. There are many ups and downs in each person’s lifetime and how you respond to the low times is what makes you the person that you are today. It is simple to be happy and pleasant when things are going well. But how do you pick yourself up when things are at their worst? That is the true question.
“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 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 pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. 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 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 flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate to another level? How do you handle adversity?”
I take my coffee and aromas seriously and surround myself with unconditional love and happiness in the form of dogs named Java, Chip and Cappuccino – and my previous dog was Mocha Latte. Now, that’s some coffee bean fragrance for sure 🙂 🙂 🙂 in triplicate. No matter how difficult my day may be, they are always there to bring the happiness factor and take things back to the basics of food, walking and love. What more do we need? Maybe a chew toy!
I challenge myself and all of you on a daily basis to change the water, the very circumstances. If you cannot do that, then maybe it is not about the circumstances for you, but rather what you are made of. Maybe the water softened you and this might have been a good thing. Either way, it’s all good.
Read this story of The Carrot, The Egg, or The Coffee Bean with a grain of salt – pun intended, or not?! Salt put into the water, or not?! So many questions…The important thing is to take a look at yourself, move forward, do not let things keep you down, & smile every day.
I am always happy to meet at the coffee shop to talk, share, listen, do a One-on-Won, or just have some good coffee 🙂 Get in touch and we can meet there or online. See you at the coffee shop…