Monday, 16 February 2009

Life Lessons from a Rotten Apple and Making Cornmeal Porridge

The other morning when I picked up the last apple from my fruit bowl ready to chop it up and add it to plump, jumbo, raw oats and seeds for my breakfast, I noticed that the underside of the apple was rotten. I cut the rotten portion of the apple away but, as I suspected, the apple was rotten to the core. So I abandoned my idea of a raw breakfast and decided to make some cornmeal porridge instead.

However, I guess the incident put me into a rather philosophical and contemplative mood because I began to see lots life sessions as I prepared my breakfast that morning. First of all, when the apple was in the fruit bowl I couldn't tell it was rotten. My perspective of the apple was that it was fine. It was only when I picked it up and turned it over that I could see its defects.

In life, many things will appear to be 'good' when viewed from one perspective but when viewed from another can be seen to be 'bad' and vice versa. For instance, many people are currently going through a particularly tough time economically which may be seen as 'bad'. Yet, this current economic climate is filled with exciting opportunities as well. It's a chance to:

~Re-invent yourself,

~ Try new endeavours, and

~ Make yourself more resourceful and resilient.

So it's important to change your perspective on situations, to look at situations from different angles. Practicing this on a regular basis can help to broaden your imagination. It can also help ensure that you don't miss out on opportunities or, conversely, decide to pursue something only to discover later you made a poor decision which could have been avoided if only you'd considered all the angles.

So having tossed the rotten apple into the bin I set about making my cornmeal porridge. Now I some folk think making porridge is too time-consuming - they'd rather pour some corn flakes into a bowl. I think my health is important and worth spending those few extra minutes on.

There's an art to making cornmeal porridge. It's sort of like making custard. You don't want to end up with lumpy porridge. As the porridge thickens the grains of ground corn start to clump together. You have to ensure that you stir your porridge vigorously at this time to break up the lumps and keep the porridge smooth. You also want to ensure that you cook the porridge slowly so any lumps that do form do not get the chance to harden as well.

So what has making porridge got to do with lessons in life? The small lumps that start to form as the porridge thickens can be likened to problems we face in life. If we deal with problems quickly then they are often easily dispelled. However, if we ignore problems that we encounter, they don't go away. Instead, they become bigger until they reach a point when the problem becomes unmanageable.

Going back to the porridge metaphor you then have to abandon that particular batch of porridge or you stubbornly eat lumpy porridge. Sometimes in life having to abandon a particular situation is actually the preferred option. Other times people end up living with their problems. These problems drain their energy and spirit and some can even be life-threatening. It's not a great way to live your life. However, there are many times when nipping a problem in the bud can prevent catastrophic consequences.

The other secret to making deliciously smooth porridge is to cook porridge on a low heat. If you try to cook cornmeal porridge on too high a heat level then the lumps will form faster than you can deal with them. This is like taking too much on in life. Sometimes this can be a good thing and is necessary. Sometimes we need to stretch ourselves. But, if you find yourself dropping too many balls or if, for instance, you notice that your health is faltering, take time to re-evaluate and re-prioritise your life.

You're probably thinking that was some pretty heavy thinking for so early in the morning. However, I am pleased to report that my cornmeal porridge was indeed deliciously smooth and, topped with cinnamon and brown sugar, was very yummy. :-)

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