‘Are You the Carrot, Egg, or Coffee Bean?’: A Mother’s Wise Lesson on Resilience Facing Adversity

‘Are You the Carrot, Egg, or Coffee Bean?’: A Mother’s Wise Lesson on Resilience Facing Adversity
A mother explains life lessons through carrots, eggs, and coffee. (Illustration by The Epoch Times, Shutterstock)
Epoch Inspired Staff
From the beginning of time, parents have passed on the benefit of life experience, which can be painful and gritty, to their offspring. And all too often, whether children are receptive to this or not determines the success or failure, ease or hardship they will either enjoy or endure later in life. The Chinese have a saying, one commonly uttered by parents to their children, that goes, “A bridge that you are crossing today equals a mere thought that crosses my mind.” Chinese culture holds that suffering will naturally accompany children who disrespect their parents—for they fail to heed that wisdom. It is so decreed, the Chinese believe, by the laws of Heaven and Earth. 
Social media is rife with anecdotes, and there are words of wisdom from parents online, like hidden gems. One tells of a mom who elucidates a way forward for her daughter, who expressed exasperation with life. An illustration is presented by the wise parent to her child, the premise of her parable being simple, things most anyone can relate to:
Food and coffee.
And it goes something like this:

Are You the Carrot, Egg, or Coffee Bean?

There was a young woman who complained to her mother that things were so hard. Not knowing how she would get through it, the daughter felt she wanted to give up. Each day presented constant struggles, and she was tired of fighting. After one problem was solved, it seemed that another always arose in its place.

The mother took her daughter to the kitchen and filled three pots of water. In the first pot, the mother placed some raw carrots. In the second, she placed several uncooked whole eggs. And in the third, she placed ground coffee beans.

The mother and daughter watched and waited as the water began to boil, the mother not saying a word, the daughter impatient and wondering what her mom was doing. About 20 minutes passed, and the mom turned off the stove. Then, she fished out the cooked carrots and placed them in a bowl, she lifted out the boiled eggs and set them in another bowl, and she dipped a ladle into the coffee and poured some into a bowl as well.

Turning to her daughter, the mother asked, “Tell me what you see?”

The daughter replied, “Carrots, eggs, and coffee.”

Drawing the daughter toward them, the mom asked her to touch the carrots. They felt tender to the young woman’s fingers. The mom asked her to crack open and feel an egg, and she did so. The hard-boiled egg felt tough and rubbery to the touch. Lastly, the mom asked her to take a sip of the freshly brewed coffee. The young woman breathed in the rich aroma, which brought a smile to her face.

Sipping her coffee, the daughter asked, “Mom, why do you show me this?”

“Because each of these objects faced the same adversity: the boiling water,” said the mom, who explained how each of them had responded differently. The carrots went in ridged and hard but came out tender and weak. The eggs had been very delicate, but after they were boiled they turned tough and dense. But the coffee was different. Instead of being changed, it changed the water.

“Which are you?” the mother asked. “When troubles knock on your door, how do you respond, like carrots, eggs, or coffee?”

And which are you? Do you start off strong as the carrots did but, when troubles arise, become soft and wilt under the pressure? Are you easygoing in the beginning as the egg, which was fluid inside, but after experiencing hardship, you become tough and unadaptable?

Or do you change the world around you when calamity strikes as the coffee, which only got better when immersed in boiling water, making something lovely and delicious out of a hot situation? The boiling water only caused the coffee to release its wonderful oils and magnificent fragrance.

So, when things are at their worst, will you be like coffee and use that to bring out your best self and change your surroundings?

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Epoch Inspired staff cover stories of hope that celebrate kindness, traditions, and triumph of the human spirit, offering valuable insights into life, culture, family and community, and nature.
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