Garden-Variety Occurrences and a Wandering Mind

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Feb 8, 2019 02:15
A few minutes ago I was cutting a head of broccoli and dropping the pieces into a pot full of water I had on the stove. Now, while washing the broccoli beforehand, I had noticed a few bruises inside the plant and had cut them off. At that moment, I imagined these dark traces were the result of some infection and didn't give them a second thought. However, after dropping the chopped broccoli into the pot, I spotted something floating in the water--a tiny worm. So, the bruises were in fact a burrow the worm had tunneled through the vegetable. It was then that the Buddhist in me took over: I took the worm out of the water, wondering if it would still survive--the water was only tepid, not too hot yet, I thought--and dropped it into a plant pot in order to maximize its rather slim chances of survival.

In any case, it suddenly occurs to me that the broccoli made its way from the refrigerator to the warm pot of water in just a few minutes. This must have been fatal for the worm, no matter all the toil I could have undergone to save its life.

As a matter of fact, the whole thing reminds me of an old story I once read about these early Christians who were being tortured by the times of the Roman Empire to make them recant. They were placed inside a big pot of water set over a fire. The water slowly got warmer and warmer. The story goes that when the heat became unbearable, they--one, several, all of the Christians?-- cried out 'Enough!" and hastily recanted. They were then taken out of the big pot where the water was almost boiling, and plunged into another one full of fresh water. Unfortunately, the sudden temperature change killed them anyway. I'm not sure whether this was the outcome the Roman henchmen had in mind from the beginning, or whether they were just being careless or clumsy, or even whether the scribe who wrote down the anecdote had the Christian reader in mind and simply invented a fake ending (assuming the rest of the story is as told), its intended moral being that, one way or the other, Divine punishment awaits anyone who abjures the true faith.