Life’s Lessons in Four Bowls — The Sum of All Little Things

This is a ritual that I perform every night. I take 4 small bowls with a little water in each. This is what I soak in each bowl — my own self created dose for 1 person.

8 Black raisons in one,

10 to 12 methi/fenugreek seeds in another,

4 almonds in the third,

2 apricots in the fourth.

The next morning, I sit at the dining table with the 4 bowls in front of me. It is advised to eat the black raisons first on an empty stomach, (don’t ask me why?) I notice that they have changed from wrinkled to plump. I put them in my mouth and savour the taste and texture. They are sweet-sour, tangy would be the appropriate word I think.

I follow it up with the methi/fenugreek seeds which have turned soft from hard. I bite into the seeds and allow the taste to linger in the mouth for a while.

Then comes the turn of the almonds, I peel the skin off, and at times the almond falls apart and I see a little jig saw puzzle. The edges are smooth and can be fixed back together quite easily. The taste is bland and the colour ‘off white.’

Lastly, I come to the apricots. I put one into my mouth and bite into it, and oooh, a burst of sweetness fills the mouth to be enjoyed for as long as possible. But what about the seed? In my younger days, I would crack it with my teeth and find the almond within (2 in 1). At 70, I dare not do that as my teeth would probably crack.

Before the pandemic, this ritual was a ritual, a task to be completed in a few minutes. It is no longer so, I know that every morning I am being reminded of how my day could pan out and a reminder of life itself.

Take a look at all the adjectives, black, wrinkled, tangy, sweet-sour, hard, soft, bland, off white, sweet and there could be more.

I will separate the adjectives into negatives and positives.

Black, wrinkled, hard, bitter, and bland in the negative list.

Tangy, sweet-sour, soft, and sweet in the positive list.

Now you try!!

Will your list be the same as mine? Probably, because we are conditioned to think of adjectives as negative and positive, just as we tend to list our emotions as negative or positive. Do we need to sort them into positives or negatives? Well, no! All of these adjectives have lessons for me.

Let me start with the raisons, — black, sweet-sour/tangy, wrinkled, plump.

I have had black days and black moments — there I go thinking of black days as bad days as black is the colour of mourning. But then, black is beautiful, black is powerful.

The dry raisons are wrinkled, reminding me that there is no wrinkle free life (Paul Henderson) and when they get plump by hydration, I see that there are ways to smoothen out the wrinkles of one’s life. Perhaps, one way would be to accept the wrinkles with a smile. And, what of the taste, sweet-sour/tangy — a good reminder that together they make for an interesting life.

If too sweet, add that little bit of zing to highlight the sweetness. And if life is full of sour moments, don’t give up like the fox (sour grapes). For, if we look around with an open heart and mind, we will see the sweetness of goodness around.

The fenugreek seeds are tiny, hard, and bitter. Have you felt bitter at your life’s situations? I have, many times, and when I am bitter, I can tend to become hard. Hard and bitter can be a deadly combination and can be very destructive to self and of those around. Fortunately, like the seeds when immersed in water become soft, we too can with introspection and the right counsel find the inner soft side to face life’s bitter moments.

The almonds are quite interesting and have a few life lessons packed into it. On peeling the outer skin, some almonds fall apart into a couple of bits. On close observation the edges are smooth and can easily be fitted to make it whole again. Life can throw some powerful punches that can break one into pieces. So, the lesson for me as a counsellor is to discern, listen and communicate to empower people to work towards wholeness.

The other important lesson comes from the bland taste and the ‘off white’ colour. I believe life should have these bland times and ‘off white’ days as a reminder to be calm, quiet and tranquil, to stand and stare, as also to get in touch with oneself and one’s creator.

The soaked apricots have a strong message that there is sweetness, joy and happiness in life — to be embraced, enjoyed and savoured.

So, here we are,

Life in four little bowls — the sum of all little things.

What would happen if I do without the raisons, or the fenugreek seeds, or even the almonds or apricots?

I would not make that choice. Every experience and situation big or small is there for a purpose. It will be my attitude that will determine the outcome. Life is to be lived to the fullest with all that it offers.

In the month of October, Mahatma Gandhi’s life would be a good example to emulate. He faced life square in the face and said, “My life is my message”.

Educational Consultant with 2 passions in life: the Child — from toddler to adolescent, and Education — education philosophy and psychology