A young woman went to her grandmother and told her that her life was falling apart. Her husband had run off with someone else and she was devastated. She did not know how she was going to go on. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as soon as one problem was solved, a new one arose.
Her grandmother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pans with water and placed each on the stove. Soon each 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 then let them sit and boil, without saying a word.
After about twenty minutes she turned off the hobs. She drained the carrots and placed them on a plate. She spooned the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a mug. Turning to her granddaughter, she asked, ‘Tell me what you see.’
‘Carrots, eggs, and coffee,’ she replied. Her grandmother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noticed that they were soft. The grandmother then asked the granddaughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg.
Finally, the grandmother asked the granddaughter to sip the coffee. The granddaughter smiled as she tasted its rich flavour. The granddaughter then asked, ‘What does all this mean, grandma?’
Her grandmother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong and hard, but came out softened and 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, however. They had changed the water.
‘Which are you?’ she asked her granddaughter. ‘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 I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?’
‘Am I the egg that starts with a soft 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 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 you elevate yourself to another level’
How about you? Are you the carrot, the egg, or the coffee bean?