Being a vegetarian, I have become pretty familiar with my fruits and veggies, and two fruits that have enriched not only my diet but also my perspective on life are the banana and the kumquat. The super sweet banana has a beautiful yellow and utterly bruise-free peel when it is ready to be eaten. However, a browned peel will reveal the mushy, bruised flesh of the fruit for all to see. Now, the kumquat is unlike the banana in several ways; not only does it have a significantly cooler name, but it is also eaten with its rind. The first taste is surprising because its sweet rind doesn’t hint at the unexpectedly sour flesh of the fruit beneath it. Aside from making me sound like a fruit expert, my knowledge about these two fruits has made me realize that for most of my life I have been a banana, showing the world my feelings and sharing with it my burdens and worries. However, after spending some time with my Put-Together Pal, I realized that portraying the kumquat’s sweet cover even when one is dealing with misfortune within demonstrates a composure which the whole produce aisle seeks to emulate J.
Summer, summer, summertime! Will Smith’s famous song and countless others had been streaming through my head since my amazing summer had begun. I was spending every day with friends and family, sleeping in, and enjoying myself. On this particular day, a group of friends and I were on the drive home from a great day together.
Rocking my opaque white sunglasses in the backseat, I surveyed the beaming faces of my friends around me. We had been blasting the radio, eating, and laughing our heads off the entire trip. This is what it’s all for, I thought. The hours of studying, the chores, the responsibilities…..all of that makes these moments that much sweeter.
There was no way we were going to stop smiling. All of us were so happy to be done with school and to be spending time with one another. All of us had grins plastered on our faces, but no one’s was bigger than that of my Put-Together Pal. My PTP was smiling enough for our entire car! The jokes, silly faces, and crazy laughter that came from my PTP were enough to keep the entire car cracking up for the whole trip home.
While we were catching our breath after laughing at a joke, one of my friends said, “Okay, everyone say some of the most memorable times from school!”
We all reminisced about some of the craziest teachers, most fun assemblies, and best days we had had while in school. Wow, I guess we have actually had some amazing times together, I thought as we turned to my PTP to hear another memorable event. At first, my PTP couldn’t come up with an event that one of us had not already mentioned, but after a while, my PTP found a memory.
“Well, it’s not really a positive memory, but it has been with me all year long, so I guess it counts. You guys may not have known that I have a health problem I have been contending with for a while, and it’s been pretty rough to deal with this year,” my PTP said, smile fading. “It has definitely been a challenge for me, and if it worsens I hope I can deal with it in my future.”
The atmosphere in our car had changed after we heard this memory. The gummy worms weren’t being inhaled at lightning-fast speed, the music that had been blasting from the stereo was reduced to a dull roar, and all of us were a bit quieter. Despite the aura shift, my PTP aimed a small grin at all of us in the car. “Come on, guys, it’s okay! Here, let’s change the subject.”
My PTP then started talking about funny stories with friends and family members, and within the minute had us all laughing once again. Our car ride home continued to be the crazy party it had started out to be. And yet, while my PTP was amusing all of us, I couldn’t help but think, Wow, this is the kid that is contending with a serious issue? This happy goofball? I was so amazed to see the composure my PTP had in the face of misfortune.
That willingness to portray a positive face to the world even if that positivity may not be what is behind the scenes demonstrated a true strength and selflessness to me. When the rest of the car had begun to feel unhappy for our friend’s misfortune, my PTP immediately sought to bring us the joy we had felt before. My PTP tried to match the bright summer sun with his/her own shining light, and in doing so, had allowed our light to shine through as well.
Lesson Learned: Composure is a wonderful dish that we all need to eat. Mix grace, strength, and selflessness, bake for a couple of years, and sprinkle a great sense of humor on the top before serving to the world J. Of course, sharing one’s issues with friends and family is necessary, especially when the issues are serious. But when someone has the composure to deal with these issues without casting the burdens of worry or discomfort upon others, s/he is accessing an inner strength that will improve his/her life and the lives of others. Harness your inner kumquat, and find the strength to put the sweetest face to the world, even in the sourest of times. J