When Life Throws You a Curveball, Have a Cup of Coffee

I can still remember that fateful day. It was early in the morning and I had just arrived at the office. Grabbed my cup of coffee and fired up the laptop when my hand phone rang. It was my wife, and she was crying.

“The biopsy result is out, I have stage 2 cancer”, my wife told me in between sobs.

Everything stopped for a moment. I was out of words. I was shocked. The moment I tried to say something assuring, she broke down even more. After listening to her for a minute or so, I eventually mustered a feeble “we will pull this through together darling.”

After hanging up, I sat at my work desk, stunt. Yes, cancer is not uncommon. We have all heard of a family or friend who has or has someone that is affected by cancer. But like everyone else, I thought that cancer only happens to others. I have never thought it would happen to me. Why my family? Why my wife?

Fast-forward three months and to cut the story short, my wife underwent surgery to remove the cancerous lump, followed by reconstruction on the affected area. The healing process was slow and painful. When her body was strong enough, doctor prescribed chemotherapy plus radiotherapy. She is now onto her third of total required six doses but more to come in the form of radiotherapy.

Life has thrown us a curveball. We were all well. Now we struggle to live back our normal lives. I was in and out of the hospital and my career is taking a beating.  Our two boys are still young and require attention and care. They will be entering elementary school next year. I have to shoulder extra responsibilities at home while managing work in the office. With my wife focusing on recovery, it can be tough and tiring at times.

As the head of the family I may put up a brave front. But I have my moments of pain. I have been impatient with my sons and I feel horrible every time I lose my temper on them. It is never their fault and they are just being active and playful children. At times I am less kind to my wife. I get upset when she complains and when she makes a fuss. She struggles with the side effects of chemo and we all feel the brunt of it.

The road to recovery is certainly not easy. I struggle. I fail, over and over again.

One day when I was feeling low I chanced on this story about a carrot, egg and coffee bean. I thought it was an interesting perspective and hence I am sharing it with you here.

If you are also currently going through a rough patch, I hope this story can encourage you to be of courage and stay strong. There is always something to be learned from adversities. Don’t let it kill you and you will always emerge stronger.

The story goes like this:

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and the last she placed ground coffee beans.

She let them sit and boil without saying a word. In about twenty minute she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee into a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, “Tell me what you see?”

“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied.

She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. 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. The daughter smiled, as she tasted its rich aroma.

The daughter then asked, “What’s the point, mother?”

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity… boiling water – but each reacted differently.

The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, 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 being through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.

The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water they had changed the water.

“Which are you?” she asked the daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?”

Are you the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, you wilt and become soft and lose your strength?

Are you the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did you have a fluid spirit, but after a trial, become hardened and stiff? Does your shell look the same, but on the inside you are bitter with a hardened heart?

Or are you going to be like the coffee bean?

The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like a coffee bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around me.

Interesting perspective on the coffee bean indeed!

How do you handle adversity?

When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate to another level? I believe all of us can learn to behave like a coffee bean.

So the next time life throws you a curveball, remember this story and have a cup of nicely brewed hot coffee!