In my search for solutions, I found grains. They are like ancient friends that have been around for more than ten thousand years. Every culture has their own grain, it seems. And in some cultures, they referred to their own, particular kind as Mother. Not so strange since the grain, like a mother, is full of the goodness we need to live. And, like a mother, it is teeming with surprises.
Recently I learned about naked grains. They have no husk. Farmers and consumers love them because they are easy to prepare. I admire them because they are brave. Without the husk to protect them, they are vulnerable and visible. “This is who I am,” I imagine them saying. “I may not be as exclusive as truffles, or as colorful as pomegranate, but I am who I am, and I will do my best to satisfy you.” Interestingly, despite their modest looks and feeble size, they have more to give the human body than most other food in the world.
I realized that if I were a grain, I would most likely not be naked. Instead, my husk may be of the more impenetrable kind. Naked is frightening. To be seen for who I really am, means risking rejection, and what could be worse? Fear of losing control and, perhaps worse, failure, keep us from shedding our husk voluntarily. It is the rare kinds that stay naked always, and who are secure enough to reveal who they really are, without pretense and protection.
One can use donkeys or oxen to walk on the grains to get the husk off, I read. Or one can just beat them on a hard floor. Nowadays machines do the job, but I doubt the process is less painful. After such a treatment, the husked grains too are naked—vulnerable and visible, bruised and beaten.
Pain. Isn’t it interesting that for our true self to surface and shine, pain is almost always involved? I wish it wasn’t so. And the tougher and the more stubborn the husk, the greater the pain. This we know, and yet we pretend. We pretend things are well when they are not. We pretend we got life figured out when we have not. We pretend success is our middle name, when failure lurks around the corner. We pretend life is a party, when loneliness gnaws our confidence to nothing. We pretend we are as confident as a lion, when, in reality, we feel as insecure as a dog with a cone around his head.
Naked grains. There is no pretense. They just are. They hide nothing, although there must be imperfections in them as well. But, somehow, their imperfections are what make them unique and beneficial.
They are examples to follow, and have attitudes I admire. Nature speaks to us, but we are so slow to listen. I think I hear it now. I must shed my husk.