I read this short story on a blog the other day and just couldn’t put it out of my mind. It’s a lovely story about people, the challenges they face and the way they react to these challenges: they become stronger, more determined and take action, or they break down. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared with what lies within us”.
A girl complained to her father 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 father, seeing her in such a low point of her life, took her to the kitchen and filled 3 pots with water and placed them on the stove fire. As soon as the water began to boil, he placed a potato in one pot, an egg in the second and coffee beans in the third pot. He then let them sit and boil, without saying a word to his daughter. The daughter, moaned and impatiently waited, wondering what he was doing.
After a few minutes, he took out the potato, the egg and poured the coffee in a cup. Turning to her, he asked:
“My dear, what do you see?”
“Potatoes, eggs, and coffee,” she hastily replied.
“Look closer,” he said, “and touch the potatoes.” She did and noted that they were soft.
He then asked her to take an egg and break it. After peeling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg.
Finally, he asked her to sip the coffee. Its rich aroma brought a smile to her face.
“The potatoes, the eggs and coffee beans had each faced the same adversity– the boiling water” her father said. “…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 which made it strong on the inside. The ground coffee beans are unique however – after they were exposed to the boiling water, they changed the water.”
“What are you?” he asked his daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a potato, an egg, or a coffee bean? “