Are You A Carrot, An Egg Or A Coffee Bean?
It never ceases to amaze me how things seem to "just happen" sometimes. For example, have you ever been thinking about someone you haven't spoken with for a while when the phone rings and it's them? This just happened to me the other day. I was thinking about a tennis friend of mine who recently had some minor surgery. It had been a few weeks since last we spoke and I was wondering how he was doing. I was literally looking up his number when the phone rang and there he was. "Hi John - would you like to go out and hit some balls today?" I almost fell out of my chair. I swear that's a true story and it's not the first time its happened. Another example of these kinds of odd occurrences is what motivated me to write this article. Let me explain.
I was composing a response to a frustrated dieter the other day who was angry and upset because, as she put it, "Just as I was getting it all together and starting to lose weight, the rug was pulled right out from under me." Like so many others, she suddenly found herself in the middle of a firestorm of problems. Some were related to her husband and some were related to her job. The end result, however, was that she was feeling lost and overwhelmed. Her concern was that she would channel all of this negative emotion into an uncontrolled eating frenzy or what I call the MEE syndrome - Mindless Emotional Eating. She claimed that eating was how she has always reacted to these types of stressful situations in the past. I might add that this is very typical behavior for stress eaters!
I was collecting my thoughts and beginning to compose my response to her when I noticed that I had just received an email. So I decided to take a short detour and check out that email. It turns out - it was a good thing that I did. The email was a message from a friend who said that she came across a story that she wanted to share with me. Knowing that I love stories with a message and a powerful punch, she passed it along hoping that I might be able to use it in some way.
Well, after reading it, I knew I would be using it immediately. It was exactly what I needed to make my point with the distressed dieter I mentioned earlier. Because it arrived just as I was writing my response to this woman, I was reminded of that very timely phone call from my tennis friend. Anyway it got me thinking about Karma and fate and how mysterious life can be sometimes. Did I cause my tennis friend to call me by simply thinking about him or was it just a strange coincidence? Did I trigger that email from my other friend or was it just a coincidence as well? Were these two incidences examples of chance or was it some kind of mysterious Karma.
Speaking of karma, I'm reminded of an interesting book I read a while back by Frederick Lenz called "Surfing The Himalayas". It suggests that nothing happens by accident and that all events are disguised opportunities. The book is a quirky, humorous and interesting intellectual and spiritual journey into the meaning of life and the concept of karma. One of the main characters in the book is Master Fwap. He is the last master of the fictional Rae Chorez-Fwaz School of Tantric Mysticism and Buddhist Enlightenment. In defining karma to the other main character in the book, Master Fwap says,
"You see my young friend, karma not only means that what happens to you in the present moment is a direct outgrowth of what occurred to you in the previous moment. It also means that you are who you are right now because of who you were in the previous moment".
Hmmm! Master Fwap's message was exactly what I needed at that moment to reply to that struggling dieter. The message I wanted to deliver to her was that each of us controls our own destiny even though we all have obstacles in our way and crises in our lives. It's how we react to these situations that sets the stage for our future lives. Plain and simple - we are who we are because of the choices that we make. In this way, we are the architects of our destiny. The story that my friend emailed to me makes this point very well. So, in the spirit of Master Fwap, I offer it for your enlightenment.
A daughter complained to her father about her life and how things were so hard for her. She didn't know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up because she was tired of all of the fighting and struggling. It seemed that just as one problem was solved a new one always arose.
Her father, a chef, took her into the kitchen. He filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to a boil. In one pot he placed carrots, in the second he placed eggs, and in the third he placed ground coffee beans. He let them sit and boil, without saying a word. The daughter impatiently waited, wondering what her father was doing.
In about twenty minutes he turned off the burners. He fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. He pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then he ladled the coffee out and put it in a bowl. Turning to his daughter he asked. "What do you see"? "Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied. He brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. He then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg inside. Finally, he asked her to sip the coffee. She smiled as she tasted its rich flavor and smelled its wonderful aroma.
She humbly asked. "What does it mean Father?" He explained that each of these three items had faced the same adversity, boiling water, but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. But 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 hard and resilient. The ground coffee beans were very unique however. After they were put in the boiling water, they had changed the water.
"Which are you," he asked his daughter.
With that story in mind, let me ask you a question. When adversity knocks on your door, how do you normally respond? Are you typically a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean? So the next time you find yourself in a crisis, at your wits end and ready to toss in the weight loss towel, think about this story and be mindful about how you respond. Because at the end of the day, your future is intimately tied to how you respond to the challenges of the moment. Or, as Master Fwap might say, who you become tomorrow is directly related to what you do today. Is that coffee I smell?
Wishing You Great Health,
Dr. John H. Sklare