I have things to do.
Lots of them, in fact.
But today’s discovery has derailed my productivity.
I simply must tell you what happened!
I was cooking a favorite dish – chana masala, an Indian curry made with chickpeas.
Sounds complicated, you think. Before you’re too impressed by my culinary skills, you should know this is a simple 3 ingredient recipe.
– I chop and sautee an onion (this is the hard part, especially if you know my painful history of chopping onions).
– I open and drain a can of chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans.
– I open and pour atop the mixture a jar of tikka masala sauce.
What… like cooking is hard?
But this time, something was different. I knew it the minute I emptied that can of garbanzos
Right there, in the middle of 100+ identical garbanzo beans was an outlier.
A solitary kidney bean.
What? Who put that there?
Mix-up at the bean factory!
I couldn’t take my eyes off it. It was just so…. obvious… amongst its paler, rounder bean cousins.
I checked the can. The ingredient list makes no note of kidney beans. It’s just… chickpeas.
And water and salt. And some chemical added “to promote color retention” that I’d rather not know about.
But no kidney bean.
The can clearly states “Quality guaranteed or your money back.” I could make the case for it.
But why would I complain about a kidney bean? It wasn’t its fault it wound up somewhere it didn’t belong, separated from its tribe.
No, I would not do that. I would not report the bean.
This bean deserves compassion. Validation. Love.
(Wait, stay with me here… It’s all somewhat metaphorical. Like the ladybug in the bathtub and the dress with pockets and running the stairs for someone else’s hot dog. I do this a lot…)
Is it possible this bean feels its difference? That it is painfully aware of its inability to disguise itself? It protrudes like an awkward imposter. There is no hiding this bean.
I see it.
I feel for it.
Poor little kidney bean just wants to be a garbanzo.
Then again… maybe there’s another explanation, one that’s a bit more triumphant.
Maybe our bean friend was simply not meant to fit in with the other beans.
Maybe its presence isn’t about fitting in but about standing out.
It leads the way in all its difference. It announced, “LOOK AT ME, I AM KIDNEY BEAN!”
Maybe it’s meant to encourage us! To celebrate what makes us stand out from the crowd. To embrace our uniqueness. To value those special qualities that grab the chef’s attention.
Which is exactly what it did.
I admired the kidney bean and pondered.
Should I take it out of the dish? It’s not meant to be there.
But what’s the harm of letting it stay?
Ever have a 3-bean salad? A 15-bean soup? That’s a lot of beans! It’s the variety and combination of beans that make the dish.
I looked around as if someone might catch me in the act. And then I stirred that kidney bean into the stew-like mixture, enveloping it with chickpea love and letting it add its distinct shape and color to this otherwise homogenous dish.
This was no mix-up at the bean cannery.
This was a meant-to-be bean. It is, in so many ways, so much more than a bean.
It’s a story.
And the moral of the story is: Embrace your inner bean.
Even when looking or feeling different feels awkward, BE UNIQUELY YOU.
You were meant to stand out from all the chickpeas in the can.
Valerie Gordon is a lifelong storyteller, a former award-winning television producer, and the founder of career and communications strategy firm The Storytelling Strategist. The author of “Fire Your Narrator! A Storyteller’s Guide to Getting Out of Your Head and Into Your Life,” she blogs at Commander-in-She about strategic storytelling and the stories we find in everyday life, like this one. She cooks a decent chana masala even with sauce from the jar.