Oh, how we want life to be easier!! If only we could lie on the beach all day, sipping cool beverages from tall glasses while having our feet massaged. That would feel great, but if that’s all we did, meaningful growth would be impossible.
To illustrate, I do a lot of work outside—building, planting, pruning, and so on. I don’t know a thing about painting with a brush, but I do enjoy painting with trees, bushes, grass, and rocks. Two years ago I decided to add a planter to highlight the edge of our driveway where it meets the forest.
I built a concrete retaining wall that was attached to—but separated from—the existing driveway, fifty feet long and five feet high. I excavated dirt and roots, leveled the ground, poured a concrete foundation, laid the block wall, and poured numerous vertical concrete structural pillars with steel rebar. It was quite a project. Then I filled the space between the driveway wall and the retaining wall with about 8000 shovels full of soil, and planted the Illicium floridanum that I had envisioned in my painting. They would become a wall of varying shades of green to accent the blending of the driveway with the surrounding trees.
The year I planted the Ilicium, they didn’t grow at all. This is to be expected with most plants. The next year they grew maybe 20% in size. This year, however, they have grown about 300%, creating a lovely wall of color and texture.
Meaningful growth takes time and preparation. We have to be willing to do that work. During the entire time I poured concrete, placed rebar, and laid block, not a single leaf grew. But I persisted, with my eye on the prize. Only after a great deal of labor, watering, fertilizing, and more did I experience the desired result. It was worth it. It was beautiful.
Similarly, our lives can become glorious creations. We all want to be happy, but most of us stop at the first exertion, after the first drops of sweat fall from our brows. We want gratification now, but love and genuine happiness require more attention than that, and finding them is well worth everything we can do. Delightfully, the entire process—pouring, building, planting, and watering—is also gratifying.
Dig in. Build. Plant. Water. Then experience the wonder of what you have done.