Carrots, eggs and coffee beans
My only daughter, Kate, was married last Saturday. I’ve known her new husband, Ari, since the two met during CU’s freshman orientation in 1994. They were friends for three years before they began dating, which was a blessing because a genuine friendship emerged long before they became involved romantically.Kate and Ari march to the beat of their own drum. While their independent attitude caused me some concern when they first moved to Hollywood to pursue careers in the entertainment industry, the growth and maturity I’ve since observed has disabused me of my anxieties. Kate and Ari understand that life throws us numerous curve balls, but it’s how we deal with our adversities that ultimately determines our happiness. This concept was never made clearer than in an e-mail Kate sent me last spring.The e-mail contained one of those allegorical stories meant to teach a life-lesson. It was about a young woman who went to her mother seeking sympathy for the many trials in her life. She told her mother how it seemed that just as one problem was solved another appeared, how her daily struggles had exhausted her, and how she just wanted to give up. Instead of responding directly, the mother took her daughter to the kitchen, where she filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first pot she placed carrots, in the second eggs, and in the third she placed ground coffee beans, and allowed all three to come to a boil without saying a word. After about 20 minutes the mother turned off the burners and fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. Next she took the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. And finally she ladled the coffee into a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, “Now tell me what you see ,my dear.” The daughter replied, “Carrots, eggs and coffee.”The mother brought her daughter closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The mother asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After peeling 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. “So what does this mean?” the daughter asked.Her mother explained that each object 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 in the boiling water, its inside became hardened. But the ground coffee beans were unique. After being placed in boiling water, they changed the water!”Which 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?”Are you the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity it wilts, becomes soft and loses its strength? Or are you the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did you once have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other adversity, become hardened and stiff? Do you look the same on the outside but on the inside are you bitter and tough with a hardened heart?Or are you like the coffee bean that actually changed the hot water, the very circumstance that brought the pain? You see, when the water got hot the beans released their wonderful fragrance and flavor. In our own lives, when things are at their worst, do we get better and change the situation around us? When the hour is the darkest and trials the greatest, do we elevate ourselves to another level? In other words, are we like carrots, eggs or coffee beans? Over the years I’ve endeavored to teach Kate about the value of integrity and adhering to a set of core principles. But an interesting thing happened during the instruction because while those concepts remain essential, Kate and Ari also gave me a lesson about how to be a coffee bean.When they first began planning the wedding, Kate and Ari said, “Only people we truly care about will be invited,” which meant no invitations were sent to distant aunts or third cousins they hardly knew. And that’s just how it was, a rooftop under the stars in downtown Los Angeles filled with more love and joy than I could have imagined.Kate is now a married lady, and I couldn’t ask for a finer son-in-law. I know I’m prejudiced on the matter, but if a couple’s future happiness can be measured in terms of the love and emotion expressed on warm, star-lit August evening, these two coffee beans will have enough love for many lifetimes over.Butch Mazzuca, a local Realtor and ski instructor, writes a weekly column for the Daily. He can be reached at email@example.com Vail, colorado
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