LIFE LESSONS FROM THE BLACKBERRY PATCH
Early this Memorial Day, I was out in the Harmony woods picking wild blackberries. I love the challenge of gathering them, and I like to think I've gotten pretty good at it. People ask me, "Why do you go to all the trouble when you can buy them at the store? It sure seems like a lot of blood, sweat, and tears for a small reward." Well, besides the berries themselves, I love the insight and understanding that come to me as I'm picking. Here are some important life-lessons I've learned while picking.
1. Having the right tools is critical.
The crucial tools in the case of wild blackberry picking are the right clothes. My tools include a thick, long-sleeve shirt; long thick pants; high rubber boots (no laces, they get stuck on the briars); a non-cloth hat (caps get stuck on the briars); and my special invention: Scott Farnsworth Wild Berry-Pickin' Gloves! - thick work gloves with the end of the index finger and the end of the thumb cut off to grasp the ripe, juicy berries. This "outfit" isn't much to look at, but it sure does protect me. I've seen people try to pick wild blackberries wearing what they wear everywhere else in Florida: t-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops. Ouch! That was ugly, and the picking didn't last long. Tools matter, folks!
2. Don't move on until you've looked around; sometimes the best berries are right behind you, above you, or below you.
I've learned that when I think I've finished picking all the berries in a spot, I need to step back, slow down, turn around, and examine the area from different angles. It never fails: when I look again, I find some of the largest, plumpest, ripest berries hiding in plain sight. Wild blackberries are like many of life's best opportunities-you don't see them at first glance and if you're in too big a hurry, you'll miss out. Look around another time or two before you move on; you may find a hidden treasure right under your nose.
3. Fast is slow and slow is fast with blackberries.
Picking blackberries is slow, tedious work. You can't rush. If you try to hurry, you end up hurting yourself and not picking many berries. Working with people is like that too. If you try to be too "efficient" in the human dimension, you can do a lot of damage. "There is nothing faster than the speed of trust [but] ironically it comes from the speed of going slow. With people, fast is slow and slow is fast." Stephen R. Covey
To be continued . . .