It occurred to me the other day, that the saying “life is a bowl of cherries” is a little confusing. Taken literally, comparing life to a bowl of sweet, plump fruit, I am confronted with the basic fact that life certainly isn’t always sweet and ripe with potential. Life can be sweet and I can think of many sweet events in my life: my wedding day, the births of each of my three daughters, watching recitals, concerts and musicals my daughters performed in, bat mitzvahs, and graduations. Like cherries, those events and moments are small, bite-sized bits of deliciousness, a little fruit, eaten in one bite, but life is also filled with hidden dangers, little landmines, hazards, and potential debilitating stones on our path to happiness and contentment.
Cherries really rise to the occasion when they reside in cherry pie, sweet, kind of sloppy and held safely within a firm crust. I can trust these moments because the crust guarantees that the cherry filling won’t slide away. I can enjoy it all, licking the plate if I want to, no morsel wasted.
Cherries are delectable in jam, pureed into sweetness that I can spread on more solid bases and use it to make the most ordinary, special. The memories evoked by the smell and the taste of the cherries take me to places where I enjoyed the first bite of summer fruit, long lazy summer days when I had nothing more to do than enjoy a bowl of fresh cherries.
The hidden part of cherries, the pit within, is a reminder that even the sweetest parts of life have peril, sometimes, hidden inside of “normal” events are parts of life hard to deal with and dangerous to swallow. There are times when our bodies betray us and hide deadly disease, and times when a toxic secret is revealed in a relationship. There is nothing to do with a pit, swallowing it can choke the life out of you. The only reasonable thing to do is to spit it out and move on to the next bite.
Cherries offer the best surprise when they are hidden among other fruit. A fruit salad filled with flavors, some tart, some tropical and then, when you are least expect it, a sweet, ripe, juicy cherry, a reminder that the variety of flavors in life offers chances and challenges, changes and character building opportunities. If all of our experiences were prepared for us, pitted, where would the excitement be? Predictability has a place, but I prefer to live in awareness, being present to the moment, pits and all.