EDITION 1. THE WISDOM OF THE PEAR TREE
1 February 2019
Once there was an old man who had been named after his father. He was living in the winter of his life. His years remaining in this world were numbered and he knew it.
He had four sons who’d lost their mother when they were young, and he’d done his best to raise them to be good and honest young men. But when he was a younger man, his job and his career made him a busy man himself. He knew he did not set the best example for his children.
He worried always about what kind of men they would come to be when they were ready to set out into the world on their own. He prayed they would each find their happiness and fortune...good, God-fearing wives who would bear them children and together raise up good families of their own.
But like he himself had been, they’d become an impatient sort...always rushing from one thing to the next, rarely taking the time to savor the moment.
“It is my only true wish before I die that you find happiness in this world,” he told them one evening as they gathered around the fire after dinner. “But I fear I have failed in teaching you how to savor each moment in this life. You must learn to slow down. You must learn to never judge things and people as quickly as you do.
Each person that you meet brings you a different message and an important lesson of some kind. Each city or country that you visit one day will open your eyes to a new and different culture. Each circumstance or situation in which you will find yourself, be it joyous or tragic, is there to teach you something you did not know before it came along.
These are the things I pray you each will learn. And so, I am asking you do this favor for your dear father before my time on earth is up...”
As they sat by the fire, he explained to each of them what he expected of them...
“I was raised on the small farm that my father owned,” he began. “It is very far away from here and my memories of it are from another time. But I recall a pear tree that sits on the crest of the hill. It has greeted the morning sun since my father’s father was a young boy and it continues to bear the sweetest fruit despite its ancient age. My father always told me it was the fabled tree of wisdom and its fruit, if I were to eat it at it ripest, would impart in me the knowledge and understanding I would need to become a good man.
In this coming year, I want each of you to journey to your grandfather’s farm. I want you each to sit beneath that pear tree and wait to hear the lesson it has to teach you. I want you each to come back and share what you’ve learned.”
Each of the sons loved their father very much and would never question anything he said or asked of them.
The first son went immediately that winter. The second would wait until spring...the third in summer and the youngest son would make his journey in the fall.
When they had all gone and come back, he called them together once again before the fire and asked that they each describe what they had seen and learned.
The first son who’d gone in winter was the first to speak...
“I found a tree with ugly, bent and twisted branches,” he began. “It was skeleton-bare and eerie at times. There was not a single leaf to be found on the brittle branches that snapped between my fingers. The bark was as cold and rough as a crocodile’s skin. Moss grew at its roots and old, abandoned spider webs adorned its bare branches. If I would look at it from a certain angle, it reminded me of an old man reaching up toward God in the heavens. The lesson it taught me is that old age and death are something to be avoided for as long as possible.”
The second son who journeyed to the tree in spring spoke next...
“Oh no!” he exclaimed. “That is not the tree that I witnessed. The tree I sat beneath was covered with green buds and full of promise and new life. The new leaves were the brightest color green, and they were as soft as silk to my touch. Birds sat on the highest branches and sang the most beautiful songs. The lesson it taught me was one of rebirth...how we can all be made new again.”
The third son who’d gone in summer disagreed with both his brothers...
“The tree I before which I stood was laden with blossoms that smelled so sweet and looked so beautiful,” he said. “It was the most graceful thing I’d ever seen. I arrived at sunrise, as father suggested. I sat beneath the branches and was soon enveloped in the cool shade they threw. Arrows of sunlight pierced the branches as they swayed in the summer breeze. The lesson I learned was that this world was a beautiful and safe place.”
The last son, who was also the youngest, had traveled to the tree in autumn. He had something completely different to say than what his brothers had revealed...
“I must disagree with all of you,” he began. “Our grandfather’s pear tree was ripe and drooping with fruit. It was full of life, and it spoke to me of fulfillment. I tasted the fruit and it melted on my tongue like soft, sweet sugar. The smells of the forest and the colors of the changing leaves overwhelmed my senses. The lesson the tree taught me was that we grow old one day at a time and with age comes our understanding of beauty.”
After each of his sons had spoken, the old man could not hold back his tears . He smiled and told them how proud he was of each of them...
“You are all correct,” he said, “even though each of you has told a starkly different story of your experience. Each of you have seen the tree in a different season of the tree’s life and the tree told you each its secrets.
The true lesson you were to learn would not come however until you were all back here...speaking with each other. The old tree has told you that you cannot judge it or a person or a place by only one season. The essence of who someone is and the pleasure, joy and love that they can bring to you can only be measured at the end, when all the seasons are up.”
I love the old man’s wisdom and I try to learn by it and practice its humility and brilliance each day...
If we give up when it’s winter...when things are not going as we’d hoped or planned or needed, then we will miss the promise of our coming spring, the beauty of our warm summer, the fulfillment of our glorious fall.
We simply cannot judge a life, be it our own or another’s, by one difficult season. We must never permit the pain of one season to destroy the joy of all the rest. It is all about perception...how we see things in all the seasons of our lives. Remember this!
Our thoughts and feelings come from our past memories. If we think and feel a certain way about something or someone, we begin to create an attitude. An attitude is a cycle of short-term thoughts and feelings that we experience over and over again. Attitudes are nothing more really than shortened states of being. If you string a series of attitudes together, you create a belief. Beliefs are more elongated states of being and they tend to become subconscious. When we add our beliefs together, we create a perception. And it is those perceptions that have everything to do with the choices we make, the behaviors we exhibit, the relationships we choose and the realities we create.
Sometimes things happen to us that may seem horrible, painful and unfair at first, but in reflection we find that without their occurrence and overcoming the obstacles they've laid in our way, we would have never realized our fullest potential, our greatest strength, our incredible willpower or the true depth of our human heart.
Everything happens for a reason. Nothing happens by chance or by means of luck. Illness, injury, love, lost moments of true greatness and even sheer stupidity, all occur to test the limits of our soul.
Without these small tests, whatever they may be, life would be like a smoothly paved, straight, flat road to absolutely nowhere. It would be safe, and it would be comfortable, but it would dull as hell and utterly pointless to travel upon.
The people we meet who affect our life and the successes and downfalls we experience help to create who we become. Even the bad experiences can be learned from. In fact, they are probably the most poignant and important experiences of our lives.
If someone hurts us, betrays us or God forbid breaks our heart, our duty is to forgive them for they have helped us learn about trust and the importance of being cautious when we open our heart.
If someone loves us, love them back...unconditionally, not only because they love us, but because in a way they are teaching us how to love and how to open our heart and eyes to the beauty of the world around us.
Make every single day count! Appreciate every moment and take from those moments everything that you possibly can. You just never k now...you may never be able to experience it again.
Talk to people that you have never talked to before and actually listen to what they have to say. Let yourself fall in love, break free of fear and routine and set your sights and your goals high up in the heavens.
Hold your head up because you have every right to. And never forget to always make your thinking big enough for God to fit in!
Try telling yourself something every morning upon waking...
“I am a great person and I believe in myself.
If I don’t believe in myself, it will be impossible for others to believe in me.
I can make of my life anything I wish.”
Create your life the way you want it and then go out and live it with absolutely no regrets.