Feeling Good: a parable from the breakfast nook

Author: David Kotok, Post Date: October 5, 2015
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Parable: “A usually short fictitious story that illustrates a moral or spiritual lesson.” (The source of this partial definition is the Merriam-Webster online dictionary.)

A little sun poked through the clouds and illuminated the breakfast nook. The solar warmth normally uplifts spirits. But this morning was an exception.

Janet looked glum. The aroma of the morning coffee likewise failed its usual arousal of the senses. She was tired. And troubled.

“What’s going on?” asked George.

George knew his customer well. They had been together for years. They had compared notes as they conducted research. They had helped each other write and edit. They were best friends and each other’s most honest critic. They sharpened their minds when they shared ideas. They were a twosome, brilliantly, conjoined and supporting each other. She was his biggest fan before and after the Nobel. He was her champion during the political tussle.

Now she was tired and troubled. Her committee had to deal with lemons, a subject he knew something about. She needed his help. He offered when he sensed that she couldn’t ask.

“I didn’t like the look of things with the dehydration,” he said. “I’m worried about you.”

“I’ll be okay,” she said softly. George heard her reassurance, but he sensed it was tentative. It wasn’t enough. He knew there had to be a change.

A long silence. He waited. He knew his customer well.

“If I could only find a way to avoid the fuzziness and confusion,” she said. “That would give me relief.”

They dissected the details. They talked about dots and forecasts and whose they were and how they were presented. They examined the sources of the pressures. What were the questions that triggered the angst?

In the end it came back to the definition of her role. What exactly is it? Chairing doesn’t have to be defending.

Boing! Bingo!

A light went off. George reverted to an earlier metaphor that had made him famous.

He stood up.

“Janet, you’re driving a used car with too many engines that no one can see. They are under the hood, out of view. And you have to drive it no matter what. It’s time to open the hood. Let’s make some lemonade.”

He was grinning now. He liked his metaphor from the past.

“Stop protecting them,” he said. Now he was pacing around the room robustly. He nearly spilled the strong coffee from the mug in his hand. It was his second cup.

“Not too much,” she said. “You’re not a kid anymore.”

Somehow the sunlight seemed brighter. The nook took on a glow as radiated light warmed the cozy room and reached the flowers in the corner. Suddenly the plants seemed more green and alive. She realized that she smelled the coffee aroma now.

“If NK wants to have a negative-rate dot, let him defend it himself. If Eric wants to wait for liftoff, let him explain his view. Jeff is not afraid to describe his positions. The world knows what he thinks and why. Why not the others,” she said, picking up on his theme. “You will have to do the same,” said George. “Stan will, too.”

He paused. Their eyes met. Silence, as they pondered for a few seconds that seemed like a very long time.

“Sweetheart, why allow anyone to hide?” he said. “Open the hood and let each and every one of them explain themselves. The situation will become clearer, and that burden will not be yours.”

Janet noticed that it felt good to contemplate the relief. George noticed, too. She quickly organized how she would make the change. “Next meeting,” she said. “Some may object, but I won’t give them a choice. We will open the hood and pull out the lemons for all to see.

“Every dot will have a name attached to it. And we will all explain our views. I will lead off by offering mine and saying why. I have to call Stan later, and Bill. They need to support me. The rest will divide, but they will fall in line. We will have to help the newbies like Patrick.”

She smiled. “I like it.” The smile stayed in place.

The sunlight now flooded the room. A butterfly lit on the windowsill outside, its colors bright and beckoning.

George hit Pandora. He selected a song from the past…

He walked to the table and took her hand. She got up and they hugged. Somehow she wasn’t so tired. They didn’t dance very often anymore, but it felt right, so they slowly swayed and let the lyrics and music lull them.

This morning’s soundtrack

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