Fun endeavors often leave us with entirely new perspectives on life if we’re only open to “seeing” the meaning. This happened, recently, when I made caramel apples for my kids and me. It’s somewhat amazing that life itself can be boiled down to the making and eating of candy and fruit.
Step One: It’s all about the apple.
I used Granny Smith green apples. The green skin of a Granny Smith gives the apple a durable and tough exterior. This apple isn’t easily bruised. They might serve better baked in a pie, but my son has always been a fan of eating Granny Smiths. A GS covered in caramel – that seemed like a no brainer. Combine the tartness of the apple, with all its flavor and juice, with caramel and you’ve got one damn good treat!
Step Two: The caramels.
I used the standard Brach’s caramel cubes that come individually wrapped. As I sat peeling the sticky cellophane from each caramel, I couldn’t help but eat a few during the process. Pure caramel is sickening sweet and addictive. Too much of a good thing is bad news. Too many caramels at once and head-spinning sugar highs will leave you with regrets.
Step Three: The coating process.
Temperature. Temperature. Temperature. I melted the caramel in the microwave and dipped the first apple into the bowl – but the caramel was a little too warm. As in life, whether it’s our education, love, career or whatever – if we’re not open to accepting it and embracing it at just the right moment, these momentous occasions won’t stick. They slide off our tough exteriors. The apple was cool, the caramel was hot and it slid right off. I had to find patience and let the goo mixture cool. Perseverance! On my third attempt I got the caramel to coat the apple and stay on – mostly.
Step Four: Getting stuck.
Then came perhaps the most poignant moment of the process. As in life, we get f*cked from time to time. Sometimes we are repeatedly screwed over – by the boss, by a friend, by a lover. We go through seemingly endless streaks of getting f*cked and it’s simply not fair! Imagine now, the wooden stick piercing the butt end of the apple. We’ve all felt that displeasure – theoretically at least. It stings. It leaves us hurt. But we’re tough and we don’t let it show on our exterior.
The outside of the apple remained glorious and tempting to eat. In fact, when we did eat the apples, they were deliciously sticky and tart and sweet and I felt like I needed a shower after eating mine because the caramel goes wherever it likes.
Just like life, eating a caramel apple (no matter how hard you try to do it gracefully) – in the end – is satisfying, but leaves us wanting more even though it might be a mess. We get our fingers into things we shouldn’t. We taste things that perhaps don’t agree with us. We open ourselves to risks of getting hurt if something we want desperately doesn’t work out the way we plan. But if we don’t try, we haven’t lived…really lived.
It’s the sticky sweetness and messiness of living life. As Eve discovered with her apple, our choices belong to no one except ourselves.