A young woman went to talk to her mother about her problems. She was overwhelmed, tired of fighting and struggling. No sooner was one problem solved, she said, than another arose.
Her mother took her into 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 carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word about them.
Twenty minutes later, 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 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,’ she replied.
Her mother gave her a fork and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the rubbery hard-boiled egg.
Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich flavour. The daughter then asked, ‘What does it mean, 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 in the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique. After being immersed in the boiling water, they changed the water.
‘Which one 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?’
So I wondered: Which one am I?
Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, goes limp, becomes soft and loses strength?
Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Do I have a fluid spirit, but after a break up, a death, a financial hardship or some other trial, do I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a rigid spirit and 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. 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 darkest and trials are greatest, do you elevate yourself to another level?
How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?
This is a reprint of an email I received a couple of years ago. I don’t know who the author is; if you do, please let me know so I can attribute this to her. Until then, may we all be coffee!