“When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.”
I’ve always found this quote lacking, and here’s why:
1. This assumes that you have all the other ingredients.
What if you don’t have sugar (or agave, if you’re following the trend), or drinkable water, or a suitable container from which to drink, or ice (can you picture a tall glass of lemonade without it?), or even a utensil with which to stir. I know that the quote is about turning something negative into something positive, but it’s not always that clear-cut – not to the person observing the lemonee (lemon recipient), nor to the lemonee him/herself.
I know what you’re thinking: That analogy is too dramatic. It’s just a simple lemonade.
Let’s break down all the things you need to make a proper “simple lemonade”:
- Lemons = challenges, which can be destructive, but can also be fortifying and a catalyst for detoxification.
- Water = necessities for survival, well-being; you can survive with only this, but not without this.
- Sugar = energy source; is also things that “sweeten” life, soften the tart and/or bitter parts – it can be fun and frivolous, but necessary.
- Container = stability; is also the foundation that shapes one’s purpose.
- Ice = dynamics that enhance the overall life experience.
- Spoon/Stirrer = facilitator for calls to action.
Before you suggest to someone to turn a given lemon into lemonade, see if they have the other components required to handle it:
– If the person is lacking water or sugar, the addition of lemons will leave an imbalanced, and possibly unpleasant, experience. This is also true if there are already lemons which must be used.
– If that person’s container has cracks or holes, they won’t be able to retain what they get until the damaged areas are addressed.
– If there’s too much ice, the sensationalizing parts of the experience may water down the substantial parts; too little, then it doesn’t revive and refresh in the same way.
– If the mixture is not stirred, it may take a while to create balance in the experience, which will result in more melted ice.
– No container? What are you going to do if you can’t keep it all together?
It’s good to be able to see the positive side of a situation in life, but sometimes, the lemonee is just not at the place where s/he is equipped to do so.
As a well-meaning observer, first seek to understand the lemonee’s situation in better detail, and if appropriate and permitted, help address anything that is lacking before giving potentially sour advice.
As a lemonee, evaluate your circumstances and dire needs first. And be kind to yourself above all – do not add to your burden the acidic guilt of why you can’t simply make lemonade at that moment like everyone suggests. If you just don’t feel like it, THAT’S OKAY. But do attempt to figure out what’s missing.
2. If it can be assumed that you have all the ingredients, why stop at lemonade?
Because if you do have the other ingredients, chances are, you also have more beyond those. Make a lemon custard. Or a lemon meringue pie. Shoot, make a whole meal with lemon chicken, the custard, and the pie, and wash it down with lemonade if you so desire. Don’t limit your creativity to solving problems with what you’ve got.
3. You may not need to make the squeeze anyways.
If you’re really clever, you may find that you have enough other ingredients to put together something that does not include lemons at all.
Sometimes, we focus on the one thing that might pop up in our basket, but just like how “you don’t have to attend every argument you are invited to” (Michael Josephson), you don’t have to squeeze every lemon you’re given. The lemons may not be meant to be a central ingredient for the day, and they certainly are not meant to be the central one to your life (even if you have a basketful). They may just be meant to serve on the side as an occasional cleansing, balancing component.
The excess? Now you can go to town with it and take it to the stands. How do you like them apples?