Sunday, July 11, 2010

Gratitude and Watermelons

Life is full of experiences that compel us to pause for thought. They can be a pleasure to embrace or a challenge to bear, however sometimes it is hard to decide which category they fall into. Last night at the end of a sticky 35 degree day I stumbled into one of the latter moments and discovered that this classification is not so very important as there is wisdom to be found in both kinds of experiences.

After a day spent in the heat of the sun I opened up the refrigerator and was reminded of the huge watermelon I had bought the day before. I gleefully hoisted it out of the refrigerator and commenced making the most wonderful mess of watermelon bits and juice all over the kitchen table. After chopping out a huge pile of half circle slices I sat down in the midst of it all and bit into the middle of one of them. As I was enjoying the sweet, cool, juicy fruit my brother walked into the room and saw me happily crunching, juice running down my chin and smiled at the scene. I suddenly felt bad because my little brother is recovering from a stroke in his brain stem that leaves him unable to swallow. While he is very fortunate that every other part of him is still functioning he is no longer able to eat food.

Watching me eat he was met once again with the constant craving for real food taste and texture. After a few moments of watching he decided to sit and “eat” with me. He placed small pieces of the fruit in his mouth and just enjoyed the flavour and texture, unable to let the fruit go any farther than his taste buds. What ensued was a watermelon experience of taste and texture exploration. Covered in the fruit’s sticky juice we laughed and discussed in great detail the taste, texture and all of the other glorious aspects encompassed in the eating of a watermelon at the end of that hot summer day. We talked about the smell, the crunching sound it makes when you bite in, the way it seems to cool your body and mind by taking over every single sense whether or not you swallow.

As I sat enjoying my watermelon I realized that until this moment in time I had no idea how to really enjoy a watermelon, no idea how to appropriately appreciate the gift of being able to eat a watermelon, and I was simultaneously awed and humbled by the courage and strength of my little brother’s spirit .

The next morning, with this memory fresh in my mind, I took the rest of that watermelon out of the refrigerator with the respect and reverence it deserved. I did not boil the kettle or look for a newspaper to read. Instead I simply prepared my watermelon to be eaten. I listened carefully as the watermelon crisply parted under my knife, smelled the aroma that was released, felt the juice drip on my hands, and looked carefully at the deep red fruit before biting in. I proceeded to experience the moment as it deserved to be experienced with awareness and gratitude to all of those in the long line of planting, nourishing, harvesting, and transporting this fruit to me and most of all to my brave and inspiring little brother who taught me how a watermelon should be eaten.
Written by Bobby Bessey, B.Sc.,RYT, Doula CD (DONA)