Onion or not?

     It might have started all, from something not at all spectacular – a lunch tray at kindergarten. As a five-year-old kid, I found myself staring at a pretty large, whitish piece of vegetable placed in the corner of my tray, along with the Chinese-style sweet and sour pork. ‘So it’s an onion. THE notorious onion every kid I know hates to even look at,’ I thought. Normally I wouldn’t have thought of even poking the onion with my fork – I would simply have left it untouched on my tray, keeping myself safe from the hazard. But this time it was different because a thought suddenly flashed across my head. Eating the onion was actually a chance to test my courage. The adults always told kids to eat vegetables – and I, the solely brave kid, would risk my taste buds to carry out the menacing task of munching an onion.

Photo by "Art" from CrowdPic
   
     I proudly and solemnly carried the onion to my mouth, like a determined general marching to war. However, the next minute I was filled with the utmost surprise and astonishment. What I thought was a translucent and slimy onion was actually a piece of coconut jelly. My mouth soon disarmed itself of everything and began to enjoy the overly sweet juice of what at first was an object of fear. Back then I felt relief and was deeply touched by the amazing reward I got by taking bold action, unaware of how the experience would bring change about me afterward.
     I am pretty sure that I had been one of the most conservative and stereotyped kids of my age. There were certain rules I had made for myself to follow: books had to be arranged in numerical order on the bookshelves, people I drew could not have noses because I thought it made them ugly, and I hated Picasso’s paintings of distorted and awkward-looking objects. I wanted the world around me to be comprised of things with distinct and unchanging characteristics. For me, diversity, abstract descriptions, and unexpected behaviors were inappropriate notes randomly thrown into what should have been a perfect piece of music.
     It was, perhaps, from the time I put that particular piece of coconut into my mouth that my one-dimensional world started to fade away. If onions could be coconuts, books with dull gray covers could contain fantastic adventures, princesses who wore long silk dresses could be bold and muscular, strange-looking artworks could have beautiful, hidden meanings. I began to realize how fascinating it is to be open-minded. I noticed that everything, from book covers to the faces of people, could not be easily judged at first sight. They could not be divided into good or bad, nor be correct or incorrect. Little by little, I learned how to view the world from different angles.
     At first, I was afraid that my flawless world might turn into complete chaos. However, I gradually figured out that the change in my mindset opened much more possibilities. Now I am a person who eagerly tries to make new attempts, curious about the things that would happen as a consequence. I no longer make hasty, subjective judgments about something and back away, afraid of failure. Sometimes my decisions are wrong, and I get to go the long way around, but that doesn’t mean that I regret what I did. Every one of those experiences is a precious lesson I learn by embracing the harmonious cacophony of the world.
     The onion-like-coconut, itself already an ironic expression, reminds me of how the world is a mixture of so many unique perspectives. You never know something thoroughly if you haven’t experienced it yourself. So this is what I keep telling myself: don’t run away from fear when you don’t even know if it exists or not.