From a young age, I always believed that something about me did not feel quite right. It was a bit like when you venture out to work in the morning with your slippers on. You sense you are ill-equipped to deal with the day. Something has been overlooked. Something that is essential is missing. You just haven’t looked down yet to figure out what.
This feeling took on many forms of insecure behaviour during my childhood and throughout my years of teenage angst. It rolled on into my twenties, gathering an ever-increasing, often ominous momentum. This feeling held within it a misunderstanding that was invisible to me for many years. And so I lived blindly within its apparent reality. This so-called truth – or more accurately, mistruth – had huge implications for my life.
At my core, I felt like a squidgy peach. The constitution of a peach was not what I desired or aspired to have. After all, who would want to be so unreliable? Juicy on a good day; overly soft and squelchy on a bad one. Who would choose to be intrinsically vulnerable, seemingly easy to be damaged and discarded? (And I knew all about the squelchy, squidgy nature of this erratic fruit – it was always the poor peaches my mother packed into the bottom of my lunch bag that were inevitably deposited mushed and squished in the school dustbin!)
Meanwhile, there was another fruit that held far greater appeal. The powerful coconut. This consistently strong, exotic, robust fruit (or nut, depending on your botanical bias) could be stepped on, dropped, thrown against a wall in frustration, used as a cricket ball, or even – in extreme circumstances – as a weapon. The coconut seemed to make it through all these ordeals, unscarred and intact; still round, still whole, still edible. I wanted to be a coconut.
So I had a problem. I felt like a peach. And aspired to be a coconut. Unsurprisingly, I concluded I was under-resourced and ill-equipped for life. I was thus doomed to feel self-conscious, anxious, exposed and hyper-sensitive to its outside variables. My mind was full of long, dark, cold winter days. And peaches don’t fare well in the winter. So it made sense that I did not fare well in the winter of my mind. It felt like an unstoppable blizzard was constantly blowing through me. How could a soft, vulnerable peach survive such conditions?
Living with my assumptions about what a peach needed in order to survive and thrive, my skin felt sensitive to others’ behaviours, my heart felt exposed to the threat of failure and rejection, and my soul felt vulnerable to life’s predictably unpredictable ups and downs.
And so, in an effort to protect myself, I developed a number of strategies.
I worked hard and tried harder. Perhaps diligence and conscientious effort would toughen me up?
I binged and starved. Perhaps that would control the elements and drive away the demons?
I self-harmed and obsessively dreamed of escaping the persistently harsh environment not suited to a peach’s fragile and sensitive outer layer. Perhaps that would bring me some relief?
I medicated and “sterilised” my mind. Perhaps I could simply disappear from the branches of my world, at least for a while?
I withdrew and tried to shelter behind other, more robust fruits – my husband and children – who appeared to be far more coconut than peach-like. Perhaps they could keep me safe?
And then, one day, as poignantly expressed by Albert Camus, “In the midst of winter, I found within me an invincible summer.”
This stunned me. I was completely floored.
I realised I did not need to be a coconut. I had uncovered innate resilience. Innate health. It was – it is – my birthright. It is the birthright of humanity. A universal constant.
And then I realised something else. The coconut and me? We were not that different after all.
Resilience exists for all human beings. But we innocently erect false barriers that temporarily create the illusion that we are not resilient. The illusion that we are lacking and under resourced, that we are at the effect of the outside world, that we are ill-equipped to handle the vicissitudes of life.
I, like you, have weathered many storms in my lifetime. But facing life with this knowledge allows us to settle into our peachy skin knowing that we cannot be psychologically squished. We are as protected as the coconut. The squidgy peach is also a resilient peach.
For weeks, my writing team and I have grappled with the “right” title for this book. A great many suggestions were raised, considered, almost agreed upon – and then summarily discarded! Until yesterday. When reviewing the entire manuscript for a final time, one of the brilliant drawings of John Scott, the immensely talented illustrator of this book, stood out like a beacon. John had come up with a charming, deeply insightful sketch that perfectly captured the key message of the innate resilience that exists in the universe, the salient theme that lies at the heart of all of this book’s reflections. John entitled this illustration, “The peach who thought she had to be a coconut.”
And so, the inspiration for this essay came to be. And the inspiration for a somewhat unusual (dare I say “peachy”?) book title was born.
The peach and the coconut have far more in common than I once believed. Whatever the composition of their external skin, they can both feel vulnerable whenever they forget their true nature. And they can also both feel comfortable in their own skins each time they remember who they are at their core. They have both been ingeniously designed to be in the world.
All of the reflective essays that follow aim to explore and reveal the logic and truth behind this knowledge – the knowledge of the exquisite intricacy and flawlessness of our divinely created composition that eliminates the false assumption that we are non-resilient. This knowledge is self-evident once realised. And it carries with it a monumental implication, which I will phrase, believe it or not, as one of the most important questions a human being can ever ask:
Why would a peach ever want to be a coconut?
So to order THE PEACH WHO THOUGHT SHE HAD TO BE A COCONUT and receive a 20% discount now, please click here.
WE WOULD LOVE TO HEAR YOURS COMMENTS AND FEEDBACK.
Sign-up to our weekly email