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Latte Art"I feel like dying," Josh had tears in his eyes, "Life is so hard. It has become an endless uphill climb."

Rosh looked at his son, and felt his pain. He hugged him in a deep bear hug, but that only brought more tears to the boy's eyes.

"What has happened?" he asked, but Josh just shook his head and said nothing.

Rosh sat silently hugging his son. When enough tears had spilled, he tried again, "Sharing multiplies our happiness, and divides our pain. Speak! Let the pain and hurt flow out and release you."

Still Josh shook his head and said nothing. Rosh understood his silence, and waited. It took a long time coming, but it came.

"I have no true friends," sobbed Josh. It started as a trickle but soon became a torrent. Tears flowed and Rosh listened, compassionate yet helpless.

"I help people but they are selfish and annoying. I've ended up no good at anything, everything I do fails. I'm tired, and I'm now sick of my life," he concluded.

When Josh was spent, Rosh took a deep breath and started speaking, "Your hurt reminds me of a story I once read about a girl your age telling her mother of her life's troubles. She was about ready to throw in the towel. The distraught mother took her daughter by the hand and led her to the kitchen.”

“Seating her down at the dinner table, she proceeded to fill three pots of water. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second some eggs, and in the last she placed some coffee beans. She covered the pots and brought them all to a boil on high heat.”

“When the hissing steam has set up a hypnotic crescendo and the covers had begun to dance to its tune in a drunken frenzy, she turned off the burners. Uncovering the pots, she finally turned to her daughter and asked, "Tell me, what you see?"

"Carrots, eggs, and coffee," replied the young lady.

"Yes, that is obvious," the mother sighed, "But look closely. Now tell me, what has happened?"

"Nothing extraordinary mother," replied the young lady, "I am sorry, I do not understand ..."

“When the mother didn't reply, the girl broke into tears again and said, "See, I can't even see what is so obvious to you. I am like these coffee beans soiling whatever they touch and completely useless thereafter. Wish I were more like these other two, still holding their own after all their troubles."

"I am glad you noticed so much," the mother said finally, "despite your dark glasses. You heart is so engulfed by darkness at the moment that it forgets the world will light up, if you were even to remove them momentarily. Grief casts a thick veil on human vision.”

“When darkness shrouds our heart and darkens our vision, it is hard to see things as they are. In the 2003 movie, The Prisoner of Azkaban, Albus Dumbledore tells Harry Potter that happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, when one only remembers to turn on the light.”

“Remember, where you are, does not define where you are going. Turn on the light, and light up both your path and your future. What you see ahead of you changes when you light up because your visibility has changed, not because the thing in itself has undergone any change.”

"At the moment Buddha obtained enlightenment, there was no showering of flowers by the Gods. There was no celestial music, no thunder, no change in the world around him. The world before the moment of his enlightenment and after was the same, but for Buddha it had changed completely.”

“It had changed because his view of it had changed. We don’t have to be Buddha to change our world. We can change our view too, simply by changing our goggles, or lighting up our lives. The problem is not in what we see, but in how we see it.”

“The carrots and eggs held up well you think. Good, I agree. So did coffee, but let us begin from your viewpoint. You think carrots and eggs are more useful now, and the beans are less. But all three would still make as good a fertilizer as they would have made before I boiled them, so they are all still useful.”

“Maybe not useful as you had intended them to be useful, but then if life always turns out the way we want it to turn out, the Columbuses of this world would have no hope of finding Americas.”

"She fished out the carrots and eggs and sieved the beans out of the pots and put them in a bowl in front of her daughter. She poured two cups of coffee, and started speaking again."

"Feel the carrots. They are softer now, having lost all their strength. Feel the eggs. Their shell still looks the same as before, but they have turned hard inside. Now feel the coffee beans. They are still the same. With my goggles, I see they have held their own while the others didn’t."

“In a way, I am glad you identified with the beans and not the carrots or eggs. Because, they were truly special and unique out of this lot. Water changed the carrots and eggs, but the beans changed the water that they were being boiled in.”

“The world relishes the water soiled by the coffee beans, but throws away the water that touched the other two. What has been soiled and how? It’s all in the perspective, isn’t it?"

"The girl nodded silently at her mother with a new understanding. But the mother wasn't finished yet."

"Which are you?" she asked her daughter. "When adversity comes knocking on your door, how do you respond? When the hours are the darkest and the trials are the greatest, do you rise above adversity? Do you become a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?"

"Each of these objects faced the same adversity - boiling water - but each reacted differently. Like these objects, we can also react as our natures dictate. Or we can choose to not to react, or to react in a manner or at a time we deem fit. Mere objects cannot do this, but we can still learn from these objects.”

“The carrots went in strong, hard and unrelenting, but came back soft and weak. Are you the seemingly strong carrot, which wilts and goes soft when the heat rises? Are you the one which will lose its strength when faced with pain and adversity.”

“The eggs had been fragile. Their outer shell had protected their malleable core. But, after sitting through the boiling water, their inside became hardened! Are you that fluid spirit under a thin skin whose heart will harden and turn bitter after a death, a breakup, or a financial hardship?”

“Or are you like the coffee beans? Who actually changed the hot water, the very circumstance that brought them pain. The hotter the water got, the more it got coloured and flavoured. Are you the character whose fragrance is unleashed in adversity and whose touch and passing presence changes the situations around them.”

"Mother and daughter were silent now, sipping their coffees. Its rich aroma brought back pleasant memories. Of time spent together, of talks, of laughter and of companionship. In the midst of their darkest hour, it elevated them to another level. The richly dark coffee had turned on the light."

Author's note: Inspired by an unattributed story received in an email by the author years ago. A youtube version of that is below.


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