A letter to my children..
Oranges are round and, well….orange. Avocados are green and squashy.
You may think this is obvious, my beloved ones, but you’d be surprised how many people think that an orange – with enough love, patience and hard work – can be turned into an avocado, and vice versa.
You probably read the story, somewhere, of the frog that gives a scorpion a lift across the river. When the frog asks ‘but won’t you sting me?’ the scorpion says ‘no, of course not, then we’d both drown!’. But whaddya know, they get to the middle of the river, the scorpion stings him, and they both start sinking. ‘Hey,’ says the frog, ‘I thought you said you wouldn’t sting me!’. ‘I’m a scorpion,’ gurgles the scorpion, (who is underwater, by this time).
In fifty years I’ve learned how very true that is. A person cannot be what they are not – not even if they yearn to be otherwise. Not even if it costs them their marriage, not even if it costs them their life. It’s no use pointing out to the cheat (or risk-taker, or wife-beater, or layabout, or drama queen) in your life, ‘hey, you’d better stop that or I’ll divorce you and take all your money!’. They would if they could – but they can’t, any more than a bicycle can fly. (That said, occasionally I’ve met bicycles who can fly a short distance, like chickens. Never say never.)
Time and time again, I’ve believed the promises of an orange. For you, it’s said (with the utmost sincerity) I will be the greenest, squashiest avocado you’ve ever seen. Yes I’ve been sceptical (hang on…is this peel or what?) but I just had this picture of me, at the perfect cafe, eating the perfect avocado, on the perfect toast, preferably with a water view. So I brushed aside the evidence and looked at my orange through pea green glasses. Yes it tasted funny on toast – but I’m the persevering type.
And looking at this from the other side of the shop window, I’ve often pretended to be an avocado myself – a kind, gentle, submissive fruit. In fact, I’m a rose – tough, wilful, stubborn, and liable to stab you just when you’re least expecting it.
Enough of all that. You can see what I’m getting at. The point is, when it really matters, you need to see your fruit for who he (or she) is. An orange is a lovely thing, cut into wedges or juiced in the morning and served with coffee. It just doesn’t go on toast, so if your dream is about toast – don’t hook up with an orange. And lest you think this is all about who you hook up with – it’s not. It applies equally to best friends, business partners, and people who say things like ‘sure I’ll drive carefully when YOU’RE in the car.’
Don’t blame people for who they are. SEE them for who they are.