Note: The essay that follows was written several years ago and comes from my book Vantagepoints on Learning and Life. The lessons are as true as ever. I share this as a day-after-Mother’s Day tribute to my mom.
Thanks Mom – I love you.
My mother emailed me about an experience she had last week that reminded me of some of my experiences growing up, and I hope you can relate as well. I’ll let her tell you the first part of the story. . .
“It was a beautiful, early September day in Michigan. The temperature was balmy with a nice breeze. It is days like these that remind me why I love living here so much. My husband, John, and I drove to a ‘u-pick’ blueberry patch a short distance from our home. We were told to pick from any bush, and we quickly noticed that the berries were plentiful. It didn’t take long however to notice something very interesting. There were plenty of berries on the outsides of the bushes, but if you looked inside, the berries were bigger, even more bountiful and virtually untouched.”
After telling me this story, Mom went on to say, “It occurred to me that it is the same with our relationships. How many times do we just look on the outside or on the surface and not really work at our relationships to know the inner self of others?”
Mom is right (of course moms always are, aren’t they?).
It is a powerful lesson. We fall in love with the berries on the exterior, but when we look inside we find even better berries. So it is in our lives. When we focus only on the exterior or superficial we miss the depth of others. It is only in that depth that we will truly know them and, ultimately, appreciate them.
If Mom had followed the lead of the other pickers and hadn’t looked to the interior, she would have been disappointed by her harvest – and wouldn’t have had as many berries to enjoy. Regardless of how many berries could be found outside, Mom and John picked the whole bush.
My mother (in reference to a running joke about her height) mentioned that she had to pick inside the bush because she couldn’t reach all of them on the outsides of the bushes. I know better. I know she picked inside for two reasons: she knew from experience there would be good berries there, and she is a good gardener and knows all the fruit needs to be harvested to help the plant thrive.
It reminds me that when we have experience at something, it is important to use it! Mom knew picking the whole bush, inside and out, would help the plant thrive – and she trusted her instincts (and used her experience) regardless of what the other pickers were doing. We know when we get to know people at deeper levels they thrive – and so do we. We all need attention and care and love, and without the proper care and environment, just like the berry bush, we won’t thrive.
Just like the blueberry patch, our lives are “U-Pick”. You decide what kind of relationships you want to build. You decide how deep you want to look when trying to understand and relate to others. When we pick the right patches, we will find lots of great fruit, but the sweetest fruit will always be found when we look a little deeper. It takes a bit more effort and time, but you will be well rewarded.
Think about the lessons of the blueberry patch the next time you are building a relationship, whether with your long, lost cousin, a new neighbor, or the new colleague down the hall. “U-Pick” your approach – just remember your choice will determine the relationship you harvest.