"A woman is like a tea bag. You can not tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water."
I'm not completely sure who said this - I've seen it attributed to Nancy Regan, Eleanor Roosevelt, and even Carl Sandburg. Regardless of who said it first, I would like to expand this idea a little further to say that not only does hot water reveal the strength, but also the true character. A dried tea may have the most wonderfully fragrant aroma, but that aroma may or may not be a precise indicator of the flavor. Case in point:
A few weekends ago, I signed up to be an extra - excuse me, "background actor" - in a feature film. Now I've been an ext-. . . background actor. . . in short films before, but not a feature, so I thought it would be a neat experience. Keep in mind, this being a low-budget film, it was a volunteer job. We were told to be on the set at 7am, and that we could possibly be needed up until 8pm. That would make for a long day, and I knew that there could be some downtime, so I brought my MP3 player freshly stocked with a new selection of audio books and pod casts.
I have always been a little prideful about my capacity for patience. In situations when others may loose their patience, I can keep my cool. I arrived at the school auditorium at 7am, signed in, found my seat, got my wardrobe approved, and began to patiently wait to be called.
By 1pm, I was frantically looking for a way out.
I had been sitting in the same auditorium seat for six hours doing nothing. In an attempt to assuage my boredom, I had foolishly used my MP3 player to play some games about three hours earlier, and killed the battery. The room was a toasty 46 degrees because no one could figure out how to turn on the heat, and we were all dressed for summer. The production company had provided enough food for two dozen volunteers, but there were over 120 of us. I was freezing, frustrated, annoyed, and yes, I had lost my patience. My mind began to whirl with excuses I could make up to get the heck out of there and stop wasting my Saturday.
Along with those excuses, another familiar phrase was also flickering in my brain: "Thou shalt not lie." Granted, it would be a little-white-lie, but a lie is a lie. This commandment, and the fact that I had given my word to be there that day, were my only hurdle.
We were called in to lunch, and I stood in line for my pizza slice. In my head, however, I was standing at the precipice of truth, peering over the cliff into the valley of lies. I could see the extras handler standing just a few feet away. All I had to do was walk over to her, mention something about a family emergency or something of that nature, and I would be out the door and into the glorious warm sunshine. What an internal battle I had!
In the end, I kept my mouth shut, ate my pizza, and returned to the frosty auditorium. At 3pm, eight hours after I had arrived, I was finally called back to shoot a few scenes.
This hot water has taught me a few things about myself. I am not the Queen of Patience, as I had presumed myself to be. I was also surprised by how much I was tempted to lie to get out of the situation - I thought I had that taken care of too. But, in the end, what matters is what you do in response to a situation.
So, the next time you sit down for a cup, I encourage you to pause for a moment, as the hot water brings out the flavor from the leaves, and reflect on how the truth about you has been revealed in tough situations, and how you have learned and grown from it.