Be a Bean

The end of the week last week got really busy for me.

I can’t go too long without wanting to write, though. I’ve kept a journal most of my life, and found writing to be particularly therapeutic as I have gone through this journey of discovery I call “My Quit”.

Sometimes I kick myself for not having kept some of the things I wrote over at QuitNet.

I wrote a humor piece on the Quit Farts that I’d love to get back, especially now. For some reason they seem to have returned. Couldn’t be that I’ve increased the fiber in my diet huh?

I read a comment one of you wrote to an earlier post of mine – the comment was about how hard life was for me early on. It got me thinking. It took me a long time, when I was younger, to let go of that kind of self-talk. I’ve wanted to find some way to explain how I’ve grown to think about it and, of course, it was given to me… in the form of an email a friend sent. I want to share it with you now.

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She didn’t 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. In response, her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire until the water in the pots came to a boil…

Cup of Coffee PictureIn the first pot, the mother placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them boil for about twenty minutes, without saying a word. Then she turned off the burners and fished the carrots and eggs out and placed them each in a bowl of their own. Lastly, she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.

Turning to her daughter, she asked, “Tell me what you see.”

“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” the distraught daughter replied.

Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She noted that they were very soft. The mother asked the daughter to break one of the eggs. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg. Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma.

The daughter then asked, “Where are you going with all this, mother?”

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. 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 became hardened inside, even to its core.

The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they hadn’t been changed. Rather, they had changed the water itself.

“Which are you?” asked the loving Mom. “When adversity visits you, 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 wilts, becomes soft and loses its strength? Are you the egg that starts with a malleable heart and a fluid spirit, but changes with the heat and becomes hardened? Does your shell look the same, but on the inside your spirit has become tough with a stiff and hardened heart?

Or are you like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brought the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the coffee bean’s 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 yourself to another level? How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean? The brightest future will always be based on a transformed past; you can’t go forward in life until you transform your past failures and heartaches into coffee.

That one email describes best how I learned to transform my past into a positive. What I went through did not kill me and it served only to make me stronger. I can identify with a much wider and more diverse range of people because I have experienced the things that have come along in my life. I survived them, and so I can give people hope who are going through similar events. I can stand proudly and say, you can prevail.

May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human and enough hope to make you happy.


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