Thursday, June 19, 2008

Hang on Little Tomato

On a merry vine in a quiet garden somewhere in a humble town, a tomato was born. It was happy and free, and delighted in the company of all the citizens of the gardens. The Watermelons were so sweet and had a great sense of humor. The Apples liked to hang out all day, cruising through life with a crisp sense of gaiety. The Carrots had very keen vision for the future of the garden, and could always be relied on to help others envision themselves in that dream. And those Potatoes could mix a wicked drink!

The little Tomato got bigger, and took lessons from all the garden’s inhabitants. The Fruits and Vegetables both had something beautiful to offer, teaching him the ways of the earth, of life, of happiness and love. Fruit always had juicy secrets to share, and Vegetables taught the Tomato strength and maturity.

The garden began to expand, and soon, all the produce grew up. The former friends began spending time only with produce of their own kind. The Strawberries didn’t want to hang near the vines on which the Pumpkins grew, and the Blueberries slowly retreated to a corner of the patch away from the Beets. Soon, the sprinkler became the divide in a feud reminiscent of
Broadway theatrics. Neither Fruit nor Vegetable would dare venture to the other side.

The Tomato, however, would still pay a visit to both sides of the garden. It would tan with the Eggplant in the morning and party with the Papaya after dark. But then, the inevitable happened.

News Flash: “Tomatoes everywhere have been credited with being good for health, and have rich levels of antioxidants that help prevent prostate cancer.”

The Fruit community was beaming with pride, with watermelons writing home to their apple friends in Washington and Mt. Fuji that a Fruit had made headlines and would bring them unending attention and praise from the food community. Meanwhile, the Vegetables were bursting with exuberance – none more than the crafty Lentil, who for the longest had fought to remind people that Tomatoes were one of the most underappreciated Vegetables in the produce aisle, and had been long awaiting some recognition to bootstrap. For years, these two communities had been locked in a war, battling back and forth that Vegetables had always forced Fruits into a sub-produce life because Fruits taste so good that people never consider their health offerings, while Vegetables stood chest out, feeling entitled to the throne due to their continued publicity lauding their health benefits and continued encouragements from parents to eat them.

It began with comments made under Vegetables’ breath. Whispers that the Fruits finally can get over themselves because a Vegetable that just happened to be mistaken as a Fruit would get this much regal treatment in the press were heard in passing. Then the Fruits began to get offended and irritated, citing their passion for their kind as the reason they would not let the Vegetables cheapen the accomplishments of this regal fruit by using it to excuse the years of tyranny from the Vegetables.

The argument approached near violence as both sides of the garden raised swords to lay claim to the popular product of the vine.

Orange demanded to know who in their right mind would look at a Tomato, with its soft insides and tough rind, seeded flesh and earthy taste, and ever confuses it with anything but a Fruit.

Lettuce stood their ground, firing back that just because the produce share similar aesthetic trait, it acts and is used more like a Vegetable, and should be considered such.

And they fought…


And they fought…


And they fought…

“It has seeds, it’s a fruit!”

“So what? So do cucumbers! It’s not used for sweet cooking, so it must be a vegetable”

Raised voices turned to
pushing. Shoving turned to melee. And soon, the entire garden fell deathly silent as the morning rain washed away the juices and seeds spilled from the bowels of fallen comrades.

And the tomato? The tomato was partying with the
plantain and the bok choy, oblivious to the raging war not too far away.

The Tomato just wants to hang. Just let the
Tomato be…

-The UE

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Gatorade of Life

In pursuit of fine food, wine and laughter, I have come across interesting individuals of varying ages, ethnicities, income levels and industries. All of whom were successful, and all of whom wouldn’t trade what they did for the world. For the longest I couldn’t put my finger on what exactly it was that I felt holding me kindred to these people, but recently while at a late night barbecue discussing a Broadway performer’s motivation, I felt I understood the thread that binds us.

He told me that watching his roommate stay up all practicing the inflections and emphasis in a speech he will be giving, in the mirror perfecting just the right facial expression, or just researching knowledge he needs to start a conversation with someone impactful to his career he might meet the next day, makes him feel like he is accepting mediocrity in himself. Interesting thought to ponder. On the one hand you could see his roommate as an overzealous overachiever. But didn’t Beethoven lose sleep over the 5th? Don’t
Nobel Prize winners reschedule dinners when pouring themselves into experiments or policy? I performed a mental a comparative analysis and realized that his friend and I were the same thought realized in different mediums.

There have been times when people have asked me how I manage to regularly update my writings, attend events, read, and perform well on my job. I simply reply, if you want something to get done, you make the time for it, no questions asked. If you love a woman, sleep is a distant 3rd to
late night talks on the phone. If you are preparing a special meal, you will travel far and wide, missing appointments and meetings to find the perfect ingredients to prepare the dish just right. If you truly believe in something, you will make it work no matter what may try to stand in your way.

I have stayed up all night doing, pouring myself into work to gain better understandings of the project I’m working on in hopes that in a month, a year, a decade, Ill be good enough to capitalize on it. I have had intense and angry arguments with people justifying my position on a prospective dish and wine pairing, and have done weeks worth of research to rebut my opponent’s points. I have sacrificed fun for pain, experimented and failed, and lost to others who were better at the time. And after each time, I have been blessed to have strength in my feet to get up and try again.

It’s the love for yourself and your trade. It’s the drive to be better than best, because you know deep in your heart you can be. It’s the feeling when you see someone else do well, and respectfully admire them because you know how much hard work has gone into that. It’s the unspoken lack of sympathy for someone who has failed when they haven’t tried hard enough. It’s that little voice in your head that tells you to do one more rep in the gym, or try one more wine in the kitchen, or replay on more note on the piano. It’s the building blocks of heart.

What makes people risk life and limb to see their dreams realized? What makes a person accept less pay and meager accommodations in hopes the job will provide them the future they desire? What awakens the warrior every morning?

PASSION – Is it in you?

-The UE

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