An inspired life is a passionately lived life. I aim to educate and inspire using practical, empirical and spiritual insights with occasional food for thought.
Sunday, April 13, 2014
Teabags, hot water and character
The litmus test
I seem to have fully embraced analogies for some reason as you will have noticed. They are such a part of our daily lives and most of us can relate to the examples. Ok so we all know that when an egg is immersed in hot water, after a while it hardens to become a hard boiled egg. On the flip side, a carrot is already hard but softens when it encounters the same hot water. In either case, the water remains in its original form unchanged, but both the egg and the carrot change. The egg hardens to solid form, while the carrot softens. Both the egg and carrot cannot resist the changes caused by the hot water. Now take a teabag and put it in the same hot water. It doesn't take time to see the teabag effect taking over with the water changing colour and becoming another liquid called tea. After this process is complete, you cannot call it water again because the teabag has done some serious work on encounter and the water is now tea. The tea from the bag permeates the water and changes it completely. and the name water changes to tea. Now this analogy made me think about our own encounters with situations and people. Are we changed by what and who we encounter, or do we change things and impact others around us, creating new possibilities, influencing thoughts, perspectives, identities and visions with hope and totally different desired futures?
The story of the teabag gives me three lessons to share. The first lesson is when you are a strong enough person, you can be a shining example and influence and shape those around you and give them new perspectives and identities into a different future and destiny. Secondly, you cannot change any situation when you are not within it, but you have to immerse yourself in a situation to be of any influence and make decisions that are embraced. Even in business, opinion leaders (who hold referent power) are used to lead change initiatives through the effect they have in an organisation. This is confirmed by the fact that, if you take the same teabag and put it in cold water, it floats and does not change the water. With hot water, what happens is that due to stronger density, the water moves into the teabag and is changed. The police know this fact and they use it through undercover operations where they join forces with the same criminals they are trying to bust. Only when they have gone deep enough can they gain the trust required to crack the secrets and operations that can get the criminals locked up. The fact that it takes heat to change the water to tea brings us to lesson number three, which is that sometimes it is through difficult 'hot' situations that our character is tested. Heat is as uncomfortable as it is, has helped some of us be the people we have turned out to be, with the strength, endurance, determination and vision we have for the future.
We need some heat to change our perceptions and release the influence within us for the benefit of others. Without hot situations, we are just floating around not impacting anyone and oblivious to what is inside us, which can change others around us when the correct temperature is turned on. With every encounter, I believe someone or something is changed for good or for bad. If one operates as a teabag, they are a frame of reference which impacts everyone they meet. They are not necessarily changed by situations and circumstances but they change things around them. I have heard of stories of ex-convicts turned philanthropists or drug addicts turned musicians. Most times if you trace these stories, you will find a teabag effect somewhere in their lives. Someone or something (hot) did some work and shaped their destiny for good. Now in life we have some real hot situations we encounter, and those are the ones that bring out character in us. So yes I want to be a teabag and be able to change things around me. As an ending note, Eleanor Roosevelt said 'A woman is like a tea bag; you never know how strong she is until she gets into hot water'. And all the ladies said.....Amen!