Horizon at Sandy Point

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Meditation on cocoa beans

Cocoa tree, descendant of Mesoamerica's theobroma cacao
food of the gods

"Why are you sorting beans?" The dark man is puzzled.
"What are you, a bright woman, doing sorting cocoa beans in a chocolate shop? Why do you spend time there? Is it the lime?"

Another asks, "Hmm, so how is the chocolate making going? When are you going to start making your own?"

No sorry, there's not a personal purpose, an ambition to be released after apprenticeship. This is about the transformation of cocoa beans through many many hands. From those that pick the pods and scoop out the beans covered in sour-sweet sap. To those that sweat and ferment the beans. Til they are loaded into crude bags, beans worth their weight in gold. At the chocolate shop, they are sorted, roasted, winnowed. The nibs are crushed to release the flavours of earth and sunlight, and blended to release pleasure from a delicious morsel of chocolate. Sorting is one small step in the process that is an unbroken chain from tree and farm to bean, bar and bonbon.

Oh yes, the chocolate shop is a pleasant place to be. The smell of roasting cocoa is comforting as a daily fix. Sorting beans to remove the mouldy ones and those that you think may be mouldy inside even though you cannot see the inside - you sense it in the weight, the hole at one end, maybe even the smell - must be one of the most mundane jobs in the world. Surely you can't expect to be paid anything for doing a task that does not even use your brain - not much anyway.

But I put myself in mind of all those who spend years, decades, even lifetimes, doing the same things repetitively; taking care of children; cleaning houses; preparing breakfasts, lunches, dinners; those who pick the cocoa, the grapes, the tea leaves; the millions who return to the same shop or sewing machine, field or widget maker, weeding, picking, carrying, dropping, turning a small screw. Theirs is the life that is the hum of the human world.

Cocobel guava flavoured chocolates on the "production line"

There are many jobs that have to be done, in a life, in the world. Each fills a small gap in the continuum of progress or a production line. Human life today requires many hands to keep the wheels turning, ever so slowly.

See yourself in the continuum, instead of stuck in small gap. Today, I am an ant working in a chocolate shop. Om ommm xocolatl - I accept my place in the universe, and my rewards in chocolate!

Cocobel gift boxes of mango pepper, tonka, caramel and dark hearts
(This was written just about a year ago when I started my apprenticeship at Cocobel, where the finest single estate dark chocolate is made from Trinidad's fine flavour cocoa beans. Not published until now as I am reminded by on-line meditation exercises from Deepak Chopra.)

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