The reason Willis goes to Italy every year is that he teaches American college students in a study abroad program. I am lucky enough to join him for part of his time there. His students study Italian and work on group projects. Not only are they studying in their chosen field, but they are forced out of their comfort zones. Ultimately, that’s the point. It’s fascinating to watch which students embrace the new culture and welcome each new experience with curiosity and moxy and which students hide in their rooms, speak only to other Americans and count the miserable days before they can go home.
Figuratively, these kids are thrown into the deep end of life. Some figure out how to swim. Some sink to the bottom and refuse to try. Some completely fall apart and expect (or demand) to be rescued.
The program is a fascinating microcosm and has helped me to look at my own behavior. When something unpleasant or unexpected happens, how do I handle it? Do I wallow around in self-pity? Or do I put on my big girl panties and deal with it? Do I act with integrity and composure? Or do I act like a spoiled brat?
So to extent the metaphor, when life gives you lemons in the form of a plumbing problem or a toddler with pink eye or an incompetent co-worker, what do you do? Do you whip up some meringues to make a pie? Or do you cut it into wedges to squirt people in the eye with?