I was cutting a papaya this afternoon. And my dog Tolphin walked up to me, sat down, and stared straight at that orange-colored fruit, basically saying “What’s that? I want some, too!”
I said, “No, you don’t. This is for me.”
Tolphin is a meat & potato kind of dog. I’ve tried so many times to make him eat fruit and veggies but never had any success. So I didn’t want to waste my papaya this time. But Tolphin just sat there and wouldn’t move.
“Alright, alright,” I finally said. “You can try a little piece.”
I put a small chunk of papaya in my hand and moved it to his snout. He sniffed on it, and licked on it, and sniffed on it again, but just wouldn’t eat it. I thought, “Oh crap, I knew it. I just wasted a previous piece of my favorite fruit again!”
But somehow Tolphin mustered his courage eventually— he took the papaya between his teeth and went away to enjoy it on the carpet (Right, that’s why my carpet always looks like a table cloth after Thanksgiving feast.) I thought he was going to eat it, but I was celebrating too early. Because Tolphin just walked around the papaya in circles and continued his sniffing-and-licking business like his piece of lovely snack was a time bomb or something. I was totally puzzled, and a little worried that my carpet would soon be smeared with dirty papaya jam all over. I said, “Don’t be stupid, Tol! You just crunched a jumbo buffalo bone this morning. How is Papaya harder to chew than that?!”
But apparently it was very difficult for him. When you’ve spent all your life cracking tough nuts and doing things the hard way, a sudden easiness can be overwhelming and causing cognitive dissonance in your brain. You may call this “It’s all in your head!”, or “We’re our worst enemy!” phenomenon. Whoever said those wise words were so completely right on.
Yet after wrestling with his papaya for a good twenty minutes or so, miraculously Tolphin had a breakthrough. It looked like he was hit by a meteorite of genius suddenly. He realized that if he just dared to allow the papaya a little deeper into his mouth, it would basically take care of itself there and eventually went down into his stomach with little effort on his part. Eating papaya turned out to be not scary at all. In fact, it’s a sweet, juicy, and joyful experience, and best of all— it’s so easy! When we give up the need to resist, to struggle, to grind our teeth, most experiences become what they are meant to be— a natural celebration of life.
Having successfully handled his first bite of papaya, Tolphin came back to me and stared at the remaining papaya in my hand again, happily wagging his tail. I couldn’t believe this was happening— he liked it! I placed a few bigger chunks in his food bowl. This round, he gulped them down in no time. And I watched in awe. I knew I had just witnessed something that was covertly profound— an entire episode of “How to Make Transformations Happen”. It’s the same process that all of us go through to become our highest potentials. We all have our own version of papaya. The papaya is scary, yet for some reason it’s calling us, calling us to step out of our shell and take the plunge into the unknown. And if we don’t answer the call, it would just keep haunting our dreams and make life feel terribly incomplete. But the unknown seems hellishly overwhelming. We feel lost. We struggle. We don’t know what to do. Yet all we need is really the courage to keep going. Because there is grace gifted with every papaya. After we struggle long enough trying to eat the papaya with lots of effort yet no success, a door way opens from nowhere and suddenly, we “get it”. Suddenly we realize that eating papaya has always been part of our own nature.— indeed it’s more natural than anything you can buy in Whole Foods.
And when we look back, we sometimes wonder what our fear and struggle was all about. It seems such a ridiculous waste of time. “What was I thinking then?” It’s all so easy now. Yet no struggle is ever wasted. Because without the repeated banning-my-head-on-the-wall to no avail, we’d never understand that grace, not our striving ego, is what makes things happen. We’d never understand what it means to surrender. We’d never understand that the Universe’s will is our own will after all. In our dualistic world, lots of time it seems knowledge cannot be truly absorbed without contrast to ignorance, light cannot be fully embodied without a taste of darkness. And that knowing brings acceptance and peace, no matter whether we’re currently enjoying our papaya or not.