Learning to make lemonade: from sour to sweet


The Queen B, Beyoncé, recently released her new album Lemonade. Allegations have been swirling around whether the lyrics confirm rumors of Jay Z’s infidelity, according to CNN.

In the hour-long music video aired by HBO, Beyoncé more than hints at her anger through imagery, using fire, a flowing yellow dress and a baseball bat to fill in the gaps. Later, it shows the family together, happily sitting around the kitchen table, according to CNN.

Now, I’m not saying that Beyoncé’s pain was necessary or that infidelity is OK. But, I do have mad respect for her and others making sour become sweet.

I want to talk about lemonade.

Over the past six years, I’ve watched more than a handful of friends lose a parent. Over the past six months, I’ve watched my closest friend struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder. I’ve watched them make lemonade. And in these kinds of situations, there’s not much else to do.

But my question is: Do we let ourselves pucker over the simple things?

How often do we let a minor annoyance remain bitter in our minds?  We think things like, “This project meeting would’ve ended 30 minutes ago if they just had their life together.” How often do we mentally disqualify others from their own humanity based on an action that inconveniences us?

Recently, I had an experience where I realized I was sour. I managed to overbook myself that day. After work, I needed to run home, have dinner with my friend Katelyn, who was in town for the day, hop on a conference call and then be home in time to Skype with Lindsay, my Canadian friend.

Katelyn picked me up and we rushed to Café Zupas. We finished our meal with 20 minutes to spare. We decided to stop by the Salt Lake City Public Library since we were nearby. She and I quickly parked, walked in and then I saw him.

Grubbier than most homeless people I’d met, his appearance made my heart sink. In a hoarse voice, he asked for a meal. My friend looked at me, confused. Even though she stood two feet away, she hadn’t heard a word he said.

I told him we’d be right back. As we walked away, he said to himself, “Thank you, Heavenly Father. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

I quickly showed her the library. I only had 10 more minutes until my conference call. I wanted to hurry, worried about my friend and my call.

We found him again. Between exiting the library and entering the Dunkin’ Donuts across the street, I’d heard much of his life story.

In the middle of the street, my mood changed. I no longer cared about my call or what my friend thought. He told me about his two-year-old daughter he’d never met. He told me how he had spent his day at the library.

“I’m a nobody,” he sobbed. “I stood there all day, and you’re the first person who even looked at me.”

He apologized for crying, for imposing on our night. And then I turned to him and with surprising boldness I told him, “I don’t think you need to apologize to me.”

I immediately realized that this man owed me nothing. Taking the time to get to know him was not inconveniencing me at all. In fact, it was a privilege. I told him he could cry all he needed and to order whatever he wanted. He ordered a drink and a donut. We exchanged a few words. I was sad to leave him.

I’d like to think that years from now, I’ll still remember him. I imagine I’ll forget why I was there or even that my friend was in town, but I will   remember him.

I will remember the relief in his voice when I told him we’d be back. I’ll remember the pain in his eyes when he told me he was a “nobody.” But most importantly, I will remember how sweet my lemonade tasted that day.



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