Tag Archives | compassion

Taking the Lemonade Stand


“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.

Is it?

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?


Compassion for the Broken Mold

Image(Photo Credit: Ariel Camilo)

I’ve often wondered if we are all actually made from the same exact mold.  It is unsettling to imagine that something could inspire me to do things that the most offensive of society would do to others, particularly the most innocent; I am convinced that I would not, because it is not only not in my nature, but contradictory to everything that I care most about – the protection of the innocent, the fortification of the human spirit.

But then again, I started off with extremely loving parents. My mother, before she went awry, was a very compassionate human being.  My father, mind and spirit intact, is still very kind and compassionate.  I wasn’t raised lacking love or connection, kindness or provision.  I don’t know how severe deficiency in any of those needs may alter our brain, the center of control for our overall well-being, including our perceptions of the world and judgment when we are called to action.

Today marks the 12th anniversary of the attacks of September 11th, 2001.  I think of how the terrorists that were involved lived, thought, were forced to live, were taught to think.  Our universal molds deviated from each other’s; thus, we formed differently, grew in different directions.

What if we were born and raised there, with their values and belief systems?

What if we were born and raised within the Westboro Baptist Church’s doctrines?  In our own free country, shut off from free will and free thinking, the advocacy of oppression and condemnation to others is practiced.

And even if one is not in an extremely reclusive environment, the torch of negativity can often be passed down from one’s own parental figures.  After all, our parents, by nature, are supposed to be THE model for our future selves.  Some of us take that to heart, for good or bad.

When I see movies or footage of “terrorists,” or even communists, the oppressors of my country of origin, who have taken over my parents’ mother land and destroyed the lives of so many soldiers of this great country I call home, I see ordinary people.  Some are small, clearly not well off, and many or most with family and children whom they love and want to protect.

I think of the ignorance of so many in our own country, fearful, and angry, to mask their fears and justify their harmful acts towards another innocent person, and prideful to validate their sense of worth and perpetuate the cycle.

Within the culturally diverse DC metro area, I hear stories from my daughter of kids who preach disdain and disgust against the gay community.  I find it hard to believe that such hatred in these kids comes from nowhere.

Can you imagine?  A new generation of intolerance for what is different, but not harming anyone, is sprung, even in our day and age, even with our technology and information, even with our open media.  What chance does a socioeconomically disadvantaged terrorist within an oppressive organization with a hate-promoting campaign have?  Their molds are broken, as are those of all around them.  This is normal. This is the way to be.  This is what they think, believe, and thus “know.”  This could be me. Any of us.

So universal compassion, I advocate, yes.

Forgiveness, however, is a personal matter.  Stay tuned.


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