The Potato, Egg and Coffee

Many people spend most of their lives searching to find themselves. Through work, relationships, travelling, or by doing things that they feel will bring them happiness. But in the end, many of us react according to the circumstances in our lives. 

Today I wanted to share a story with you about perspective, adversity and how you might view yourself.

Once upon a time, a daughter complained to her mother that her life was miserable and that she didn’t know how she was going to make it. She was tired of fighting and struggling all the time. It seemed just as one problem was solved, another one soon followed.

Her mother, a chef, took her to the kitchen and said, “I want to show you something.” She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Once the three pots began to boil, she placed potatoes in one pot, eggs in the second pot, and ground coffee beans in the third pot.

She then let them sit and boil, without saying a word to his daughter. The daughter moaned and impatiently waited, wondering what she was doing.

After twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She took the potatoes out of the pot and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl.

She then ladled the coffee out and placed it in a cup. Turning to her she asked. “Daughter, what do you see?”

“Potatoes, eggs, and coffee,” she hastily replied.

“Look closer,” she said, “and touch the potatoes.” She did and noted that they were soft. She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. Its rich aroma brought a smile to her face.

“Mother, what does this mean?” she asked.

She then explained that the potatoes, the eggs and coffee beans had each faced the same adversity– the boiling water. The boiling water had changed them. However, each one reacted differently.

The potato went in strong, hard, and unrelenting, but in boiling water, it became soft and weak.

The egg was fragile, with the thin outer shell protecting its liquid interior until it was put in the boiling water. Then the inside of the egg became hard.

However, the ground coffee beans were unique. After they were exposed to the boiling water, they changed the water and created something new.

My question to you is: Which one are you?

Are you the potato that seems strong? But with pain and adversity, do you grow soft and lose strength? Are you the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial,  Does your exterior look the same, but on the inside you are bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?

Or are you like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water – the very circumstance that brings the adversity, the pain, the hardship – into something quite wonderful.  If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you improve and change the situation around you for the better.

When it rains it pours. Maybe the art of life is to convert tough times to great experiences: we can choose to hate the rain or dance in it.” ― Joan Marques