A young woman went to her grandmother to talk about life and how things were so hard for her. It seemed that as one problem was solved, a new one that was even worse cropped up. She didn’t know how she was going to make it, and wanted to give up.
She was tired of struggling.
Her grandmother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil.
In the first she placed some carrots, in the second she placed two eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them all come to a boil, without saying a word.
In about 20 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.
Then she strained out the coffee grounds out and placed what was left in a bowl. Turning to her granddaughter, she asked, “Tell me what you see.” The young woman replied:
“Carrots, eggs, and coffee.”
Her grandmother asked her to feel the carrots. She did, and noted that they were soft.
The grandmother then asked the young woman to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg.
Finally, the grandmother asked her granddaughter to sip the coffee. The young woman smiled as she savoured its rich aroma, and then asked:
“What does it mean?”
Her grandmother 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 insides became hardened.
The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.
The grandmother asked the young woman:
“Which are you? When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?”
Are you the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do you wilt and become soft and lose your strength?
Are you the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did you have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a break-up, a financial hardship or a devastating medical crisis like a heart attack, have you become hardened? Does your shell look the same, but on the inside are you bitter and tough with a stiff spirit?
Or are you 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 aroma and flavour. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you try to change the situation around you. When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate yourself to another level?
How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?
“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”
William Arthur Ward