Part 40: The path least travelled (part 18)
2007-08-23 13:17:03 -

Metro Eireann presents the latest weekly column by the entrepreneur coach and business growth specialist, designed to help you overcome any obstacles and reach your dreams 

Previously: Deciding to go back to nature, our four travellers have decided that a spot of fishing is called for. And as always, a lesson has been learnt by the team. The maxim ‘Do onto others as you would have them do onto you’ does not always apply, especially if others do not like the same things as you do. In order to get the most out of life and get on with people, to have them help you on your journey, it pays to try to understand what it is that they like…
“I rather fancy continuing this nature thing,” said Nunco, “so why don’t I go back the way we came? I saw some bilberry bushes as we came down the mountainside, they look quite like blueberries, and they are very tasty.”

“How do you know they are not poisonous?” asked Preteritus. “I was always brought up to avoid eating wild berries.”

“Interesting,” mused Nunco, “how what we have been told can influence our lives so strongly. Would you in any way feel that what we believe, without knowledge, could affect what we can actually get out of life?”

“Yes I do!” exclaimed Electra, rather excitedly. “It’s just like the ‘don’t talk to strangers’ phrase we discussed before. This can lead to people later on in life being afraid of public speaking, until they are finally made to realise where that fear comes from.”

“So in effect, what you’re saying,” added Prostremo, not wanting to be left out of the conversation, “is that beliefs you take on blindly – let’s say on faith, without actually experiencing the truth or indeed the lack of truth in them – can limit what you achieve?”

“Exactly!” said Nunco. “In fact, many people refer to this blind faith as a limiting belief. 
“A great example of this is a story about a new wife, who was cooking a joint of pork for her husband. He happened to be in the kitchen when she was preparing the joint for the oven. Before adding the usual seasoning and slices of garlic under the fat after scoring the skin with a sharp knife, she cut off both ends of the joint.

“The husband wanted to know why she did that, which to him seemed rather a strange thing to do, but assumed that since she was Irish and he was from an other country, this may have been an Irish custom he did not know about yet.

“The wife told him that she guessed it might have been Irish, but she was not sure as her mother had always done it. The husband appeared to accept this, but in the back of his mind, being a stubborn beast, he vowed to get to the bottom of it.

“About three weeks later they were asked over to dinner by her mother and grandmother. After the usual chit-chat, the wife’s mother went into the kitchen to put the final touches on the meal.

“As luck would have it, she was preparing a roast pork joint, along with the usual Irish trimmings such as, carrots, peas, roast potatoes, mash potatoes, apple sauce and lashings of gravy!

“As the husband sidled into the kitchen, his mother-in-law was taking the pork out of the oven to cut off the fat for the roast potatoes, to give them a nice crunchy crackling. He noticed the ends of the joint, now slightly browned, were also cut off. He innocently asked why she cut the ends of the joint.
“Somewhat perplexed at the question, she replied in the same vein as her daughter, telling him that she had watched her mother do it when she was a child, and funnily enough had never thought to ask why. She reckoned that it was just an old Irish custom.

“Not giving up, the husband decided that he would wait for the appropriate time to ask the grandmother where she had come across this custom. After a sumptuous dinner, settling back with a coffee and a delicious home made chocolate, the opportunity arose when his wife and her mother left the room to clean up the kitchen. Seizing his opportunity, the husband asked the grandmother.

“It was simple, she replied, telling him that when she had first got married, she and her husband had not much money. Her mother before her had taught her to always buy the largest joint of pork, as roast pork would keep for a long time.

“However, she only had two small roasting dishes, so she would cut the ends off the joint so that she could fit it into one of the dishes, while the two ends were roasted separately with the roast potatoes.”

“What this means,” said Electra. “Is that the custom, which was passed down through practicality, was now resulting in a poor practice due to the limiting belief that this was the best way to cook a joint of pork?”

“So, going back to the original issue of Pre eating or not eating wild berries,” said Nunco, “what would make more sense for him to believe would be to ensure that he only eat wild berries that he knows are safe and are not poisonous!”

“Does that mean we have to experience everything for ourselves, then?” asked Preteritus.
“On the contrary.” replied Nunco. “We cannot be experts at everything in life, so it makes sense to consult with someone else who does know the answer.”

“Like the wife in your story,” said Prostremo. “She asked her mother the reason and yet she accepted half an answer, since her mother was not the actual expert.”

“As so many people do in life,” added Nunco. “They just take the answer that seems the easiest to accept, without question. This way they do not need to delve any further and their life can continue trudging on.

“Remember, it is the path least travelled that has the most difficult passage, yet it is often the one that holds the greatest rewards, because down this path are opportunities for learning and discovery, since the way has yet to be picked clean of goodness by hoards of people preceding you.”

“Thanks for the lesson in philosophy, Nunco,” said Preteritus. “Can we go now and get these bileberry thingies? I’ll even go with you so that I can learn, and more importantly – I’m bleeding starving!”

“Great, let’s go,” said Nunco. “And to start the learning process, they are actually called bilberries, blueberries or frochans!”

“Whatever,” replied Preteritus sullenly.
“While you are gone,” said Electra, “Prostremo and I will cook the fish.”
“I hope that’s all you cook!” said Preteritus, with another of his knowing grins.

Nunco and Preteritus headed together back up the path they had come down earlier, and after about 200 metres, they branched off, slightly up hill. The going got more difficult as they were no longer on an deer track which, as Nunco explained, would ensure they had a better chance of finding some berries, since the animals had not yet eaten them.

Everything was fine for about 30 metres, until Preteritus tripped over a rock hidden in the heather. Mouthing a string of purple obscenities, he got up and looked down at his hands, which were stained in a mottled pattern, with a kind of purplish coloured dye.

“Oh no!” he exclaimed. “Looks like I’ve just landed in some rabbit droppings!”
“Let me see,” said Nunco, taking hold of Preteritus’ hand and looking at his palm where the stains were. “Aha, looks like you’ve found some bilberries!”

Crouching down to look at the little bushes – about the same size as the heather, with small oval leaves, green and mottled brown, with slight serrations – Nunco could see the small berries. They were about the size of a blackcurrant, their bluish skin slightly cloudy, yet shiny where he had held it picking it from the bush. Eating the first one, he picked another couple and handed them to Preteritus.

“Are you sure that these are okay to eat?” asked Preteritus
At that moment Nunco, giving a slight groan, suddenly collapsed into the heather, clutching his side, a small trickle of purple saliva dripping from the side of his mouth as he writhed on the ground.
“Oh my God!” shouted Preteritus. “Are you okay Nunco? Answer me! Are you okay? What happened?!”

To be continued next week
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