I’m having a grapefuit for breakfast. I didn’t always like grapefruit,
but that was before I learned how to eat it. Grapefruits are a very
sweet and sour fruit, and full of juice; a perfectly ripe grapefuit
plucked from its tree and eaten in the sun is a very calm and peaceful
experience–and in its own way, symbolizes the act of living itself.
Before I discoved the best way to eat the fruit, I disliked the
toughness and bitterness of the membranes and the white pith of the
rind. Eating it required the use of a bowl, a spoon, and a teaspoon of
sugar. So much waste! Juice and pulp would percolate in pools in the
bottoms of the emptied segments and cling to the membranes. The sugar
tasted so artifical next to the sweet earthiness of the fruit, yet it
was so necessary to offset the bitter oils from the rind and the
metallic acidity of the spoon. I stopped eating grapefruits, as the
rewards were not worth the effort, the waste, or the bitterness.
But one day, my mom, father, and I were helping some friends move in a
new place in California, and in their yard were two grapefruit trees
bursting with ripe fruit. Those trees gave me breafast and snacks for
the four days and nights we spent there, and shall always be the best
grapefruits I’ll ever eat in my life.
That first morning, I was handed one the size of a baby’s head and just
as heavy. A bowl and spoon were not given to me, and neither was the
sugar. I was dubious, but I was a guest and trained to be quiet and
polite. So I peeled it as an orange and proceeded to eat the segments
like an orange.
I hated that first segment. The membrane was tough and chewy and bitter
and full of thick seeds. But the juice was so sweet, so ripe, and full
of complex flavors that only a grapefruit can make. I had a problem:
it was deliciously inedible, and I had to learn to eat it. Somehow the
realization came that I did not have to eat what I did not want to eat.
So, instead of eating the next piece whole, I peeled the membrane off:
seeds, pith, and string came off surprisingly easy. What remained was
pure flesh, moist and soft, the tightly packed cells of juice glittering
in the Californian sun. When I popped it in my mouth, a rush of pure
flavor burst and sent my mind reeling. It was exquisite. Delight. Joy.
Passion for the sun and the earth passed from the grapefruit tree, to
the fruit, and on to me.
I do not exaggerate. This is not metaphor. Such is the only way I can
explain the sheer sensualist pleasure eating a grapefruit in that way
gave me. It was a spiritual event, and among those experiences I will
So how does eating a grapefruit symbolize Living itself? Well, in order
to fully enjoy all that life has to offer, you must do away with
artificial tools and sweeteners–they only complicate matters with things
you do not need. You must peel away the bitterness and the tough
defenses, until you are left only with the substance of the thing. And
then you must consume that thing with the full awareness and passion for
what it is giving you.
Life is no more simple or complex than what you hold in your hands.
The funny thing is, I didn’t even realize all this until I started
remembering and writing it all down. Life is weird, sometimes, how the
oddest truths crop up in the most innocent of objects.