A young man went to his grandfather for advice. The grandfather puffed on his pipe and listened as the young man described how hard and difficult his life was. Nothing seemed to be going well for him. As hard as he tried, as soon as he solved one of his life’s problem another one would immediately rise up. The young man told his grandfather he was tired of struggling and was at his wits ends. “Grandfather,” he cried, ” I don’t know what I can do.” The grandfather merely arose from where he sat and beckoned the young man to follow him. The young man’s spirits lifted immediately. His grandfather was a wise old man. Surely he was going to help him.
The Grandfather led the young man into the kitchen where he instructed him to get three pots, fill them with water and place them on the stove to boil. The young man was puzzled but he did as his Grandfather asked. The Grandfather then instructed the young man to get a carrot and place it in one pot, an egg in another, and coffee beans in the last pot. The young man was even more perplexed. His grandfather was an excellent cook and this was nothing of the sort of meal he would normally prepare. When the young man had done as his grandfather had instructed, his grandfather turned to him, pointing at a kitchen chair saying, Now, please sit and watch.” Now even more perplexed than ever and beginning to become a bit angry at his grandfather the young man sat as directed crying out, ” But Grandfather, what am I watching for and I thought you were going to help me with my problems.” The grandfather merely put a fingers to his lips. “Shssss, just watch,” was all he said.
The young sat on the chair in silence and began to boil like the water in the pots, while his grandfather sat on another chair, closed his eyes and puffed on his pipe. After about twenty minutes the grandfather opened his eyes, put out his pipe and asked the young man to get out two bowls and a mug, to place the carrot in one bowl, the egg in another and to pour the coffee into the mug. When the young man had done this he turned to speak to his grandfather, but the grandfather spoke first, “Now, what do you see?” he enquired.
“Why I see a cooked carrot, a hard-boiled egg, and a mug of black coffee, of course ” replied the young man, and then somewhat indignantly,” This is not helping me with my problems at all grandfather!”
Grandfather nodded wisely. “Feel the carrots, then peel the egg and feel it, and taste the coffee, he said softly, “And then tell me what you notice.” The young man did as his grandfather wished.,” The carrots are soft, the egg is hard and the coffee tastes wonderful but,” he started to say ” I really don’t see how. . .” His Grandfather cut him off. “Exactly,” he exclaimed raising his right hand with his index finger pointing skyward. “Each of these three things faced the same adversity – the boiling water. The carrot went in strong and hard and unrelenting but after being in the water softened and became weaker. The egg had been fragile, easily broken, with its thin shell protecting its liquid interior. After being in the water the shell was the same but no longer needed, the egg was hard. The coffee beans were different. After being in the water – they had changed the water!”
Now my young grandson,” asked the grandfather. Are you the Carrot, the Egg or the Coffee Beans. Are you the Carrot that seems strong but with pain and adversity wilts, becoming soft and losing your strength? Or, are you the Egg that starts with a hard skin, soft and malleable heart but after pain and adversity has a shell that still looks the same but a hardened heart on the inside. Or, are you the Coffee Beans that actually change the water, the very circumstance that brings them such hardship. If you are like the beans when things are at their worst, when the hours are darkest, and your trials are greatest you get better and change the situation around you. If you are like the beans when the water of your life gets hot it will release the fragrance and flavour of your life.
“Grandson,” he asked, How do you handle adversity? Are you changed by it and your surroundings, or do you bring life and flavour to them?
“Are you the Carrot, the Egg, or the Coffee Beans?”