Once upon a time…
Evelyn still felt like she was thirty years old – not much younger than the middle-aged woman she saw in the mirror, and not much older than the adolescent voice in the back of her mind who she secretly felt no wiser than. She had a firm grip on the capability and alertness of youth. Yet, she struggled to keep up with her nonagenarian client as he weaved through the withering rows of the apple orchard with his wrist in hand behind his back.
“Mr. Hokuto!” she called after him, swiping bare branches out of her face as she plodded along the uneven ground. Bursting through a thicket, Evelyn finally caught up to Mr. Hokuto. If she was being honest with herself, she knew it was only because he had wanted to be caught. Hokuto was as wise as he was obstinately youthful. His rice-belly rose and fell in rhythm as he examined a nearby tree.
“Well,” said Evelyn, gasping for breath. “It looks like you were right. There are some left.”
Hokuto flashed a big grin toward his carer, so large that it exposed his silver molars. “Many a great treasure awaits you if you will only go a bit farther than anyone in their right mind ever would.”
“It’s a relief to hear that you know you’re not in your right mind, old man.” Evelyn joked.
The tree held two apples, each a little past ripe. Evelyn moved in on the tree and felt one of them with her thumb and index finger. Hokuto did the same to the other. She could tell by looking at the old man’s apple that it was somehow perfectly fine, despite how late it was in the season.
“Aww,” she sighed, feeling the soft mush beneath her apple’s skin. “That’s disappointing.”
“Which one would you prefer?” Hokuto asked with a gleam in his eye and a face that was wrinkled everywhere but around the eyes.
“Yours,” Evelyn said honestly, sensing Hokuto was setting the stage for another one of his lessons.
“Oh, but I’m rather attached to mine.” He mused “Let’s say it’s a matter of life and death. Would you eat yours then?”
“I… don’t know,” Evelyn said, screwing up her nose at the thought.
“Why did you want mine?” he queried.
“Because yours isn’t rotten,” she said.
Hokuto smirked, reaching over and plucking Evelyn’s apple from the tree. He then retrieved a knife from the pocket of his pants – one he surely wasn’t supposed to have – and methodically carved the rot out of the fruit. Then he bent stiffly to return the rot to the earth, packing it away in the soil beneath the tree.
“How about now?” he grinned.
“I guess it doesn’t really matter,” Evelyn nodded. “There’s no rot in mine anymore. It’s not ideal, but since it’s a matter of life and death—”
“Precisely. Life and death. Apple and rot. It is senseless to throw the whole thing away when all it asks of you is some careful attention.”
“Neither apple is ideal. But you ought to consume one if you care for your health, and you can’t expect to have someone else’s. It’s all in your approach. Value life. Find a way around the rot.”
“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”
― Haruki Murakami
Moral of the Story:
We’re not going to sugar-coat it: these are unbelievably difficult times. Each day we are faced with both good and bad situations. When things are going well, we rarely worry about what can happen next. We take things in stride and continue to move forward. We tend to take things for granted and begin to lose appreciation for the good things we have in our lives. It’s important to remember that no matter how bad the situation is, there is something positive to be gained. Even in death, there is a positive, even though we may not see it right away. Approaching life by looking for the positives in any negative situation will completely change your perspective and rewire your brain. Ask yourself questions like, “How have I grown from this situation?” and “Are my relationships stronger now?” Questions like these help you reframe the negative thing that is happening into something that offers growth and expansion.
Part of the real beauty of life is that it’s unpredictable. Nothing is permanent, everything changes, and of course, a lot of things will happen that transform who you are by having an impact on your life. The key is to cultivate the ability to truly accept whatever comes and embrace it. Do not be afraid. You need to have sufficient courage to make mistakes. Disappointment, defeat and despair are tools to guide the way. Slow down. It’s very easy to lose perspective, especially if you are stressed and you are going too fast. In this way, a molehill can become a huge and terrifying mountain in your mind. Approach this time with the aim to uncover the lesson or purpose behind every challenge. This will naturally help you to embrace it instead of fighting it. Instead of staring at the closed door in front of you, or becoming tired and bruised trying to break it down, turn around and see how many other windows you have open.
“Being defeated is often a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent.”
–Marilyn vos Savant
Affirmation: Every experience in life helps me to grow.
I am the architect of my life and I am able to achieve whatever I desire. Challenges bring out the best in me; I choose to see every challenge as an opportunity to shine. I am healthy, energetic, and optimistic. I choose to transcend negativity and keep my space calm and bright. I am forgiving. My compassion for myself and others replaces anger with love. As I conquer all the challenges I am confronted with I am becoming stronger and more confident each day. I find the lesson in each interaction. In this way, I am becoming wiser and more knowledgeable. I am courageous and overcome my fears by confronting them. I am at peace with my past. I am grateful for all the wonders in my life. Today I lay the foundation for a wonderful future. I am significant. I contribute to the advancement of humanity. I am able to find optimistic ways of dealing with difficulties. There is good to be found in every situation, even if I cannot see it at the moment. There is always another way. There is always a solution to my problems.
“The most successful people reach the top not because they are free of limitations, but because they act in spite of their limitations.”
–Michael K. Williams