Carrots, Eggs, and Coffee
As we were completing this book, one of those many e-mail stories floating
through cyberspace landed in our in-box. Like so much material on the
Internet, the origin of this story has been impossible to nail down. Some ver-
sions use a mother, others a father. Either way, we appreciate the parable’s wis-
dom and thought that it was an appropriate way to end.
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, filled 3 pots with water, and placed
each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to a boil. In the first pot she placed
carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee
beans. She let them boil, without saying a word.
After about 20 minutes she turned off the burners, fished out the carrots,
and placed them in a bowl. She scooped out the eggs and put 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.
Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did
and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked her daughter to take an
egg and break it. After peeling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg.
Finally the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled
as she savored its rich aroma.
The daughter then asked, “What does it mean, Mother?”
Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adver-
sity—boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrots went in strong, hard,
and unrelenting. After being subjected to the boiling water, however, they soft-
ened and became weak. The eggs had been fragile. Their thin outer shells had