A Hot-Water Fable

Food for thought, as it were. I borrowed it (with permission) from David Mankin, an oboist, dad and coffee expert with a great sense of humor. His blog is a wonderful mix of music, life and coffee.

The Carrot, the Egg and the Coffee Bean

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not 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.

Her mother took her to 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.

In about twenty minutes 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 brought her closer 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 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, “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 through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.

The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water , they had 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?

-Quinn McDonald loves a good story. If it uses metaphor, it’s even better.


16 thoughts on “A Hot-Water Fable

  1. LOVE THIS! I hope I’m a cross between the carrot and the coffee. Softened by transformation and then being a catalyst for change. Much Aloha to you.

    • To me, there’s another lesson from this story that is much more significant. Consider the three in a different light:
      – The carrot that was too hard to feed babies and those missing teeth has been softened to the core.
      – The egg that was too fragile to survive rough treatment has gained an integrity best seen when the shell that seemed its protection is peeled away.
      – The coffee bean that seems unchanged has extended the range at which its fragrant nature can be detected, giving off an aroma easily recognized even at a distance.

      In all three cases, the result was something that could then be of more service-be more nourishing-than before it was boiled.

      So too we can look at how surviving hard times has prepared us for service:
      – People who are like the carrot have their hearts softened to better empathize with others going through trials and help them make it through.
      – People like the egg learn their own strength and can shed the facade that kept them from being a source of strength for others.
      – People like the coffee bean exude acts of kindness and caring that ripple out far beyond their own reach as recipients respond by “paying it forward” to others.

      So claim your carrot-nature in all its fiber-y goodness!

      • Thank you Creative Crocheter for this most delicious story. I so appreciate your descriptive writing, the details of possibilities I had not imagined, and the outcomes of shape shifting in the most glorious sense.

      • This is such a good use of metaphor. We can see what we want to see, our perspective holds a metaphor in many interesting ways. T.S. Elliot (the British-born, American writer who wrote “The Wasteland” called this the Objective Correlative. It was the theory that a really good metaphor will be able to hold up to many different views and meanings. And you have found a truly wonderful one!

  2. Wonder story…just imagine the variety of results from the same experience. I wonder how my arms embrace my spirit, my soul, the very essence of me as I trudge through life and allow experience to boil up around me. Each result may be varied one time to the next, but every experience makes a mark that does help with the definition of who I am.
    Thank you again today, Quinn, for presenting yet one more way to explore this story that is me.

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