Blame It On the Watermelon

So I was enjoying my first watermelon of the season with my two boys today, and I realized that they had never had real watermelon, only the seedless variety. It hit me like a ton of bricks, a revelation if you will. All of today’s problems can be traced back to the invention of the seedless watermelon.

Now you may think this statement strange, or perhaps attribute it to the meanderings of a feeble mind. Nevertheless I assure you that the statement is correct. Be it terrorism, the plight of the homeless, the ever-widening rift between rich and poor, the seeming disappearance of family values, or something as mundane as rush hour traffic. All are directly attributable to the seedless watermelon. In fact, I challenge anyone to come up with a single modern day problem, social or otherwise, that isn’t directly related to the seedless watermelon phenomenon. Let me explain.

In the pre-seedless watermelon age, life was simpler. We would sit up on our sun decks, or in our backyards and enjoy a good old-fashioned slice of watermelon. We’d take our time, picking seeds out with a spoon, tongue, or even an old stick. Take a big juicy bite, and slowly, with intense concentration, tongue-wrangle all the seeds into that space between our teeth and our cheek, seeing who could hold the most. Basking in the full sticky sweetness on our lips and gums, the cool watery freshness in our mouth and throat. Then with glee we’d spit the seeds out. Machine gun style, like Al Pacino. Or perhaps Clint Eastwood style, one by one real deliberate-like. We’d take pride in our distance, or marksmanship, perhaps even holding competitions with friends or siblings. Occasionally war broke out and it was every man for himself. Afterward we could line the seeds up, or watch as they clung tenaciously to picnic bench or windowpane, betting on which would fall first. As we ate, our elders would tell tall tales of young boys who’d mistakenly swallowed the seeds, only to have their belly burst 3 months later as a vine grew inside him. Of course we didn’t believe the stories, but we’d double- and triple-check before we swallowed just the same. And we would enjoy the watermelon, and we would enjoy our friends and family, and we would enjoy the heat, the breeze, the day, idling away eating our watermelon. All this made possible because the seeds slowed down the moment. Because of those little black seeds we were forced to take our time, notice the details, and in the end, really enjoy the experience, the whole experience, not just the fruit. And sure, we’d curse and swear at the darn things and jokingly say, someday they’ll invent a watermelon without seeds, and everyone would laugh, knowing full well in our hearts that we loved the ritual perhaps even more than the fruit. Besides, a watermelon without seeds? Well that would be impossible…. little did we know.

And then someone, probably that kid in grade eight that no one liked, actually made it happen. And the watermelon lost it’s magic, and our lives lost meaning..

Now I can eat my watermelon so fast and with such ease that no concentration is required whatsoever. It’s so easy I can eat it while driving down the freeway. Why, I need not even taste it. How can we enjoy the fruits of our labour when it’s already washed pre-cut and even seeded!? I especially feel for the little ones, now they can eat their watermelon in 30 seconds flat and run on in to catch the next cartoon, in their air-conditioned townhouse. No more feeling the heat, enjoying the juices as they refresh the body and soul. No more listening to tales of burst bellies, of giggling over our own fears. No more arguments over who spat farthest, fastest or mostest. No more learning that good things take time and effort. The beautiful ritual has been reduced to a quick, efficient intake of vitamin C and vital fluids, then back to the everyday. No more magic. And herein lies all the problems of the modern day world. Bigger, better, faster, and right now. This is what our children learn from the seedless watermelon, and this has become the ethos of our world.

Bigger, better, faster and right now…….Bigger, better, faster and right now. We have no time for the unemployed or homeless looking to do some odds and ends in exchange for food. Bigger, better, faster and right now. No time to regale our children with tall tales, and anyway, the cartoon network can do it better, not to mention bigger, faster and at the immediate flick of a switch. Bigger, better, faster and right now. Why car-pool, bike or transit? That brand new SUV is bigger, better, faster, and at zero down and no payments for 90 days, we can have it right now!

We’ve lost sight of the details. We’ve lost the precious moments. We’ve lost the magic. We’ve lost our childhood, and our children may never have one. But hey, at least we don t have those darn black seeds in our watermelon! My point exactly.

We lost something when we lost those little black seeds. Perhaps it was nature’s way of counterbalancing the hectic pace of life, and now we’re the ones that are lost.

I blame it all on the seedless watermelon.

True story

There is a story about Thomas Watson Sr., the first president of IBM. A young worker had made a mistake that lost IBM one million dollars in business. She was called in to the president’s office, and as she walked in, she said: “Well, I guess you have called me here to fire me.” “Fire you?” Mr. Watson replied, “I just spent one million on your education!”

The Mule

This parable is told of a farmer who owned an old mule. The mule fell into the farmer’s well. The farmer heard the mule praying or whatever mules do when they fall into wells. After carefully assessing the situation, the farmer sympathized with the mule, but decided that neither the mule nor the well was worth the trouble of saving. Instead, he called his neighbors together, told them what had happened, and enlisted them to help haul dirt to bury the old mule in the well and put him out of his misery.

Initially the old mule was hysterical! But as the farmer and his neighbors continued shoveling and the dirt hit his back, a thought struck him. It suddenly dawned on him that every time a shovel load of dirt landed on his back, HE WOULD SHAKE IT OFF AND STEP UP!

This he did, blow after blow. “Shake it off and step up…shake it off and step up…shake it off and step up!” He repeated to encourage himself. No matter how painful the blows, or how distressing the situation seemed, the old mule fought panic and just kept right on SHAKING IT OFF AND STEPPING UP!

It wasn’t long before the old mule, battered and exhausted, stepped triumphantly over the wall of that well! What seemed like it would bury him actually helped him . . . all because of the manner in which he handled his adversity.

THAT’S LIFE! If we face our problems and respond to them positively, and refuse to give in to panic, bitterness, or self-pity.

The carrot, the egg, and the coffee bean

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 that, as one problem was solved, a new one arose. Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to a boil. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans.

She let them sit and boil, without saying a word. In about twenty minutes, 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 out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, “Tell me, what do you see?”

“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” the young woman replied. The mother 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 does it mean, 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 sitting 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?” the mother asked her daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?” Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong but, with pain and adversity, do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength? Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit but, after a death, a breakup, or a financial hardship, does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart? Or am I 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 flavour.

If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate to another level? How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?

The archer

When you’re betting for tiles in an archery contest, you shoot with skill. When you’re betting for fancy belt buckles, you worry about your aim. And when you’re betting for real gold, you’re a nervous wreck. Your skill is the same in all three cases – but because one prize means more to you than another, you let outside considerations weigh on your mind. He who looks too hard at the outside gets clumsy on the inside

The General

Once upon a time, a general led an army to invade the neighbouring country. The fate of the war was still uncertain when the general found himself separated from his army and on the run in a small town in the neighbouring country. Trying to escape from the enemy soldiers, he went into a shop where he told the shopkeeper to hide him in a safe place. The shopkeeper agreed to help the general and hid him in a small cellar below the shop.

A few hours later, the soldiers did indeed come in search of the general and as they searched through the town, they finally came to the shop. Now, this put the shopkeeper in a rather interesting position. He could tell the soldiers that the general was hiding there and they would immediately arrest him. However, the final fate of the war still wasn’t decided, and if the general’s army eventually won the war, they would surely come to take revenge on the shopkeeper.

The shopkeeper decided to say nothing about the general and the soldiers proceeded to search the shop. In the cellar, the general could hear the sound of the soldiers and his heart was beating faster and faster as he feared for his life.

But finally the soldiers gave up their search and moved on and the general was safe to come up. Shortly afterwards, his own army entered the town and it became clear that the shopkeeper had made the right decision because the general’s army were clearly now in a position to win the war.

The shopkeeper was honoured by the general for his brave act and he often talked with the general. One day, he asked the general, “How did it feel when you were downstairs in the cellar wondering if the soldiers would find you?”

Suddenly, the general’s mood changed completely and he shouted “How dare you ask such a question to the general of the victorious army?” and he ordered his soldiers to take the shopkeeper out to the firing range to be executed for his impertinence.

The shopkeeper was stood up against the wall and a cloth was bound around his eyes. The general ordered the soldiers to raise and ready their weapons. He waited a few moments and then came up beside the blindfolded shopkeeper. He removed the blindfold from the man’s eyes and said to him, “now you know how I felt.”

The Bear

Once upon a time, a long long time ago, in a great forest, there lived a bear. Have you heard this story? Good, good. Now I can’t remember the bear’s name, so we’ll just call him … “the bear”.

Now the bear, he had a good life, he had a good job, he worked at a great company. But then you know, he started having problems at his company and things started becoming more difficult for the bear. And he thought, “I really need to do something”, because his boss was not nice to the bear. His boss was so strong and the bear thought “Oh, I’m so weak. I can’t do anything. I want to be strong.”

So that night, the bear prayed to the god of the Bears, and he said “god of the Bears, please please, make me strong.”

And the next morning he woke up, and the most amazing thing had happened because the bear had changed, he was no longer a bear. He had been transformed into a great mountain. A great mountain high, so high he almost touched the sky. And as a great, great mountain, he could really begin to feel his own strength. He was made of strong, strong rock that could stand up to anything. And he looked out upon the land and he felt so good.

You know, he really enjoyed being a mountain because mountains are strong – they are really centered. Nobody messes with a mountain. So he enjoyed being a mountain for a long long time and his life was much easier when he was a mountain. But you know, things began to change at his job and his life, as things always do eventually change. His work and life were changing and there were new things that he had to learn. Now a mountain is very strong, but a mountain is not very open to change. A mountain just stays one way for a long, long time.

So one time, he realized that he had to learn to be more open and to react, to respond to change. So what could he do?

He prayed to the god of the Mountain. Of course, he wouldn’t pray to the god of the Bears because he wasn’t a bear anymore. So he prayed to the god of the Mountain and he said, “god of the Mountain, please please, help me to be more open, to be more creative, to be more flexible.”

And the next morning, when he awoke, it was very strange because he had changed. He was no longer a mountain. What had he become? He had transformed into a wind. Yes, the mountain who used to be a bear had now become a wind. And being a wind is pretty cool, you know. Because when you’re a wind, that means that you can go everywhere. If there is something in your way, if there’s an obstacle, you can just go around it, or under it, or over it. There’s always a way for a wind to go.

And the wind felt wonderful and blew the clouds around the sky and went dancing with the rocks and the fields and so much more. And he came up with amazing new ideas and went to amazing new places – very playful and creative – open to so many new possibilities and ways of navigating the world.

And for a long long time, the wind had a wonderful life. Yet eventually, the wind who used to be a mountain who used to be a bear found that although he was very open and creative and playful, he was perhaps just a little bit … shallow. He felt that he was not really aware of what was going on at a deeper level. He just blew in from one place to another, and then blew out to another without really being able to become aware of things at a deeper level. He felt his existence in each place was too brief, so one night he prayed. He prayed to the god of the Wind, and he said “god of the Wind, please please, help me.”

And the next morning, when he woke up, he was no longer a wind. He had been transformed, completely changed … The wind who used to be a mountain who used to be a bear had now become … the sea … the great sea … the great sea that goes so deep, that goes right down to the heart of the world, the great sea that reaches out to vast continents, being aware of the whole planet … so present … the great sea is aware of everything. The great sea has all the knowledge, can see everything, can hear everything, can feel everything. All through the bright day and dark night, the sea is alert and awake, aware of everything in all senses at such a deep level.

And for a long time, the sea was very content and peaceful, simply being aware of everything around. But as the sea, he slowly began to realize that although he was aware of everything, he wasn’t really connected to everything at all. Sometimes, it was as if he was an acute observer of the whole map of the world, yet he was not really … connected to the parts of that world. In a way, he felt a little isolated – he was the only great sea. So one night, he prayed to the god of the Sea. And he prayed, “god of the Sea, help me.”

And when he awoke next morning, transformed and changed, he awoke not as a sea, but he awoke instead in the state of a being who connected the land to the sea… he awoke as one who dances with the wind… he awoke as one who connects all the way from the strength of the mountain right down to the depths of the sea as he danced with the wind in his journeys through the land. He awoke as one who is truly connected – for he awoke as a river.

And the sea who used to be a wind, who used to be a mountain, who used to be a bear… now he was that river. And the river is a wonderful thing. For the river starts with the strength of the mountain, flows down easily and enjoyably right down to the sea, connecting the mountains and the peace of the sea. And on the way, the river dances with the wind, always playful and open, the wind dancing with the water. Dancing together.

And for a long long time, he was happy as a river because a river could connect all of these things. Everything was really good, but you know, eventually he thought, “it is great being a river, being connected… yet it was also great to be a mountain, to have all that strength and centeredness… and it was also a fine thing to be a wind, to be open and creative and playful… and then it was wonderful to be the great sea, to be aware and alert and deep in knowledge.”

So one night, he prayed to the god of the river, “help me.” And the god of the River replied, “well, this is an interesting situation, and I’m curious to know the solution, aren’t you.” And the god of the River continued, “I can not help you on my own, yet there are other beings in other states who may be able to help us to find the best solution for you, the river who used to be the sea who used to be a wind who used to be a mountain who used to be a bear.”

And then the god of the river called upon the god of the sea and the god of the wind and the god of the mountain and the god of the bear. And they each came from their own states, and the five gods decided to go for a quiet drink in a local bar to find the best solution. And the quiet drink turned into a long night and many drinks as the gods all discussed “what are we going to do to integrate all these beautiful things that have been found.” And what do you think was decided?

After the long discussion of the gods, they said, “what we’re going to do is … we’re going to transform you back into who you really are … you will once more become a bear … and live a bear reality … but with some important differences … for you are indeed a special bear.”

And the god of the Mountain said to the bear, “Because you wanted to have the strength of the mountain, so down in your feet, centering you down to the ground, I will give you the strength of the mountain. And whenever you feel your feet supported by the solid earth below you, you can remember, remember the strength of the mountain and once again feel the centeredness and strength of that mountain within.”

And the god of the Wind said to the bear, “And I will give you the openness and flexibility of the wind, the ability to be open and play, the creativity of the wind. And I will put this all around your center, and whenever you become aware of the center of your body, then again you will be open and playful and creative in so many ways.”

And the god of the Sea said to the bear, “And I will give you the awareness and peace of the sea, inside all around your heart, all around your head. Whenever you focus on this area, you can have that peace, that awareness, that deep deep knowledge and alertness.”

And the god of the River said to the bear, “Well your body is now full – full of centeredness, openness, and awareness! But I will give you the connectedness of the river all around and beyond your body. Above you, below you, all around. Whenever you become aware of the areas around your body, you can again easily feel that connectedness with all living things and all the resources that are available to you.”

And there was one more god, wasn’t there? Do you remember? Yes, of course, there was the god of the Bears.

And then the god of the Bears said to the bear, “Well, I want you to be able to remember all of these things because in everyday life and when problems arise, a bear can bearly remember sometimes what is important, and a bear needs a little help to help you remember, don’t you? Because sometimes, you might not consciously remember that you have the strength of the mountain within you, or that you do indeed have the openness and creativity of the wind, or that the great awareness of the great sea is always within you, or that the connectedness of the river is available all around your body, waiting for you to embrace all those wonderful resources that you are connected to.”

“And so I want you to remember, if not even consciously, that all of those resources are available to you. So what I will do for you, my bear, is that every time you bring your hands (or your paws!) together, yes – that’s right – as you bring your hands together now – all of those things will come back to you and you will feel them all again in your body and around your body… integrating in exactly the ways that are most appropriate for you … growing and spreading in ways that support your excellence … and knowing that you can easily access all of these wonderful learnings in your future by simply bringing those hands together.”

And the next morning, the bear woke up and he was transformed, changed completely, and the god of the Bears spoke to him and said, “yes, indeed you are a bear, a very special bear, yet at a very deep level you will always remember all of these important things that you have learned … and learned to use in ways that are most appropriate for you … the mountain, the wind, the sea, and the river are all part of you now.”

© Copyright 2012 by Dr. Brian Cullen

Overweight girl And Little Sister

Now … a thirteen year old girl that weighs 230 pounds and she has a nine year old sister that weighs 75 pounds. She’s been overweight since age two . . . obese. She also had a compulsion to follow this little sister everywhere— was afraid the sister was going to be killed. The mother is overweight but she looks slender compared to the daughter. The father looks great. And there is now a six month old baby daughter. The girl is thirteen and her parents have told her all the facts about being overweight. Now what about dying? She knows them all, but you know, death never comes to OUR house … it is always the other fellow. And I know that any one of you could die in a traffic accident today. If you approached all the people that were going to die in traffic accidents in Arizona by January 1st and TOLD them, “by the end of the year, you’ll be dead by a traffic accident”, they wouldn’t believe it could happen to them … it always happens to the OTHER fellow. Now that girl knows she isn’t going to die. She ISN’T going to get high blood pressure. And she follows her kid sister, she’s afraid something may happen to her kid sister. So you tell her, “Now you are NOT an elephant. An elephant can run very fast. Someone who’s human and very fat, they can’t run fast. And you ought to KNOW that. And you could tire very easily. And your kid sister can climb a mountain much more easily than YOU CAN, and so you say you’re WORRIED about your sister … I think you OUGHT to be. ‘Cause you’re in NO shape to look after her! You have to be able to move RAPIDLY to take care of her!” So you approach that girl and her weight through her sister … and she’s got plenty of ground to worry about, ’cause she can’t be on hand to protect her sister . . . she’s got to be in shape. And I gave her a specious goal—VERY specious—that will be acceptable, and when she discovers the charm of having an improved figure you make an appeal to her self image.

One Month to Live

The woman drove home from the hospital in a daze. “You probably have only one month to live.” the new Doctor had told her after reviewing her test results.
As her mind cleared on the long journey she started to plan the month ahead. She thought of the letters and e-mails she needed to write, the calls she wanted to make, apologies for past mistakes, statements of love to those close to her. She realised there were experiences she had always postponed having which she could still cram into this month. Above all she wanted to spend her last weeks feeling fully alive.
She arrived home, keen to start doing the things she had thought about. The phone was ringing as she opened the door and she took the call. It was from the hospital, there had been a terrible mix up. Her tests were clear, there was no problem.

The Cocoon and the Butterfly

There was once a troubled man who had lost his love and was walking through a forest in search of answers to calm his aching heart when he suddenly came across a cocoon. He noticed a small hole in the cocoon and could see that there was movement inside. He grew curious, moved closer, and soon noticed that a butterfly was trying to free itself. Much time went by and the butterfly seemed to be making little progress in its’ attempt to get loose from inside. The small hole that it had managed to make was not getting much bigger and it seemed trapped. So the man decided to help the butterfly by making the hole larger to enable it to escape to freedom more easily.
The butterfly then plopped to the ground. The man smiled thinking that he had freed the butterfly from its’ pain and struggles. However, he soon noticed that the butterfly was not moving normally. It seemed to be limping on the ground. In fact, the butterfly had very small wings and every attempt that it made to fly was futile. It remained that way and never was able to fly freely as other butterflies do.
You see, butterflies necessarily have to struggle in order to break free from their cocoon. It is only through the struggling that the fluid in their wings can allow them to fully grow. And in this way, once they have struggled enough are they then ready to enter the world and fly freely as fully grown butterflies.
Upon realizing this important lesson the man then became determined to push forward in his own life and allow the necessary time for his heart to heal. This lesson had taught him that our struggles in life can allow us to grow more fully and discover our own ‘wings’ in life when the time is right.
Very often being patient with our struggles in life and allowing for the necessary time to pass by can lead to wonderful transformation.

A Meeting of Minds

Martin was returning to work in his London office after spending two weeks with his brother over in New York. He was coming back with a heavy heart. It was not just that it was the end of a wonderful holiday; it was not just that he invariably suffered badly from jet lag; it was that Monday mornings always began with a team meeting and, over the months, he had grown to hate them.

Martin was aware that colleagues approached these meetings with hidden agendas; they indulged in game-playing; and he knew that people were not being honest and open. The meetings themselves were bad enough – but then there was all the moaning afterwards. “The usual people saying the usual things”. “I could have improved on that idea, but I wasn’t going to say”. “I was thinking of making a suggestion – but I couldn’t be bothered”.

As this morning’s meeting began, Martin braced himself for the usual moroseness and monotony. But, as the meeting progressed, he became aware of a strange background noise. At first, he thought that he was still hearing the engine noise from the aircraft that had brought him back to London – he had had to sit over the wing and the droning was terrible. But, as he concentrated on the noise, it became a little clearer.

He realised – to his amazement – that he could hear what his colleagues were thinking as well as what they were saying. As he concentrated still harder, he found that he could actually hear what they were thinking at the same time as they were speaking. What surprised him, even more than the acquisition of this strange power, was that he discovered that what people were saying was not really what they were thinking. They were not making clear their reservations. They were not supporting views which they thought might be unpopular. They were not contributing their new insights. They were not volunteering their new ideas.

Martin found it impossible not to respond to his new knowledge. So he started to make gentle interventions, based more on what he could hear his colleagues thinking than on what he could hear them saying. “So, John are you really saying ..” “Susan, Do you really think that …” “Tom, Have you got an idea on how we could take this forward?” He was aware that his colleagues were unsettled by how insightful were these interventions. They looked at him mystified. In truth, he felt rather proud of his newly-acquired talent.

Emboldened now, Martin forgot his usual misery at participating in such meetings and began making comments of his own. However, he became aware that some of his colleagues were looking at him quizzically. One or two even had a gentle smile playing on their lips. Only gradually did it dawn on him – they could hear his thoughts and he was not really saying what he was thinking.

As the meeting progressed, Martin became aware of changes to the tone and style of the event. It was clear to him now that, one by one, each member of the meeting was learning how to hear the thoughts of all the others and this was subtly changing how they inter-acted with one another. The game-playing started to fall away; people started to speak more directly; views became better understood; the atmosphere became more open and trusting.

The meeting ended. As people left the room, Martin found that he could still hear what they were thinking. “That was the best meeting we’ve ever had.” “All meetings should be like that.” “In future, I’m going to say what I think”.

Author: Roger Darlington

The Eagle

Oh to be an eagle
And swoop down from a peak
With the golden sunlight flashing
From the fierce hook of my beak.
‘Oh to be an eagle
And to terrify the sky
With the beat of wings like thunder
And a wild, barbaric cry.
‘Oh to be an eagle…but why keep dreaming?
I must learn to be myself,’
Said the rubber duckling sadly
On its soapy bathroom shelf.

Nelson Mandela

Shortly after his release Nelson Mandela was phoned with his congratulations by US President Bill Clinton. In the course of the conversation Clinton asked him, “Surely after such an experience of incarceration you must still feel some anger towards those who kept you in captivity?” Mandela replied “No, I realised if I didn’t let go of my anger then those who imprisoned me would still be in control of a part of my life.”