LIFE LESSONS FROM THE BLACKBERRY PATCH
Last week, I shared some of the insight and understanding that came to me as I was picking wild blackberries in the Harmony woods. Here are some additional lessons I've learned.
4. A Mental Mini-Vacation
Some of my best thinking happens when I'm engaged in physical activities like walking, gardening, or picking wild blackberries. Those activities don't occupy all my mental bandwidth, leaving the rest of my brain free to reflect on whatever subject I choose. It's like a mental mini-vacation. Sometimes I just "de-frag" my mind and try to put the pieces back in order. Sometimes I come up with completely new and intriguing topics to ponder. Sometimes I achieve major breakthroughs with issues that have resisted solutions when I "had to" think about them. For me, a little walk in the woods or a couple of hours in the blackberry patch is the perfect catalyst for great thinking.
5. Only pick 'em when they're ripe.
Blackberries ripen one by one, not by the bunch. Part of the art of smart picking is knowing when each berry is fully ripe. Even when a berry looks ready, it may still be sour and pithy. The best way to know if a berry is ready is to see if it comes off the vine easily. If you have to tug, you need to leave it for tomorrow because it's not ready yet. In a similar way, there is a time and season for life's offerings. Opportunities sometimes need to develop and mature a bit longer before they're ready. An idea before its time just won't quite come together, no matter how great it seems. Leave it alone for a while. Pushing too hard can lead to frustration and wasted effort. Better to slow down, be patient, and let the fruit ripen at its own pace.
6. Don't waste your time with small berries.
The size and quality of berries vary widely in the woods. In some spots, fully-developed blackberries ripen no larger than blueberries. In others, they grow as large as cherries and you can fill a bucket in no time. Since it takes the same amount of effort to pick each berry regardless of its size, it makes sense to avoid the small-berry spots and devote your attention to the big ones. Life is like the berry patch. Some tasks deliver huge pay-offs, while others provide minimal returns. Wise people focus their time and attention on areas likely to produce larger and longer-lasting results. Unwise folks squander their resources on trivial matters and end up wandering through life with mostly empty buckets.
To be continued . . .