Friday, October 30, 2015

Apples and Oranges

You walk into a grocery store that appears to be selling only apples and oranges. The shopkeeper is beautiful and charming and proudly shows you their collection of apples and oranges which appear delicious if you like apples and oranges - which you do. And they certainly know their apples and oranges. 

The two of you bond over your mutual love for apples and oranges, and you roll them around in your hands as you gaze into each other’s eyes. When they offer you samples from the fresh shipment they’ve brought in, you bite, wide-mouthed and eyes closed as the juice trickles down your chin. They tell you that no one has ever come into their store the way you have and appreciated apples and oranges like you do. You can barely remember that you had ever set out that first morning looking to buy some grapes. 

But when the time is right, you gently ask them if they have any grapes. They say no, there aren’t any grapes. There are apples and oranges because that is all that they can manage and the shape and size just works for them. Then they open up slightly by sharing some key information: Long ago they used to have grapes for some other customer, and that customer loved those grapes. They were the best. And they were so happy selling grapes to that customer whenever that customer wanted them. It was wonderful. And then one day that customer decided they didn’t like grapes anymore so that customer stomped all over the grapes, squishing them and their delicate skin all over the floor. And fled out the door to another shopkeeper who was selling figs across the road. 

Their heart was broken. So that’s why they no longer sell grapes — they can’t bear to. It hurts too much. And so, for you, just apples and oranges, alright? They tell you maybe there will be grapes on the shelves one day. They may get some in. In fact, maybe tomorrow, if you come back. 

So you keep coming back day after day, week after week, year after year, and they keep describing the grapes they don’t have, and still they give you apples and oranges which are looking more hard-skinned, cold, and tasteless by the day. Still, you’d really like to someday see these grapes they keep promising to bring in. You are grateful for your apples and oranges but deep inside -- you crave grapes, so much so that the cravings wake you up in the middle of the night. You see people all around you stuffing their mouths with grapes. When your friends invite you to their homes, you eye the grapes in their fruit bowls and wonder which market they had found them. You know that grapes can do powerful things beyond just being tasty -- they can be turned into wine! You go back to the shop and do everything including cartwheels to try to get them to order in some grapes. They say that you deserve the finest grapes, and actually they are surprised a person like you hasn’t found grapes by now. But they’re glad you haven’t - because they were thinking about grapes just the other day and how they might get some for you... tomorrow.

Tomorrow you arrive to find their shop is closed. Just as they are turning the keys to lock the door for the last time, they tell you they are off to buy a vineyard with someone else. No hard feelings, eh?
They’re not rejecting YOU, can’t you see?
It is you, after all, who cannot sustain yourself on just apples and oranges and they know nothing else -- have nothing else to give but apples and oranges.
But what about the grapes they were planning on bringing in?

All lies.

They never had any desire for grapes and it was all a story just to keep you interested and to see what you would do to remain a loyal customer. The story of the grape-loving heart-breaking customer was a fabrication, or a combination of a few former customers who got tired of those apples and oranges and walked away. And no, they’re not off to be the owner of a fancy new vineyard. How can they be, when they’ve never even liked or been interested in grapes ever in their life? There is no vineyard. They’re just setting up shop somewhere else to sell -- you guessed it… more apples and oranges.

And you? You go home and plant a small grapevine in your backyard, allowing the grapes that will soon grow to be a complete surprise.

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