For two and a half years I babied my precious blackberries.
I spent hundreds of dollars and hundreds of hours watering them, fertilizing them, weeding them, pruning them, building a trellis for them, painstakingly tying up each cane to make them grow better.
The first two seasons we harvested little more than a couple handfuls of berries.
But as the third season approached, the vines had burst into activity.
Here they are just after planting them in the spring of 2010:
And here they are in November of 2012:
They were ready. All my hard work was about to pay off. The next spring would be our first official harvest. My mouth watered at the thought of homemade blackberry pie from homegrown berries, for which I had spent so much time, money, and energy.
Then we moved.
Someone else will be stuffing their faces full of plump, juicy berries and eating the fresh pies I dreamed of for years.
And I’m okay with it. A line in the Live Extraordinary Manifesto reads, “Plant seeds for others to harvest.” In other words, leave things better than how you found them.
I learned that principle and way of life from my parents. Growing up, I often saw my father picking up garbage left by other people. I wondered why he would spend time and energy on something that wasn’t his problem.
Until it clicked for me and I realized that John Donne was right:
No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.
Every problem in the world is the responsibility of every individual. We’re all in this together. Everything we do affects everyone else in the world.
The bell tolls, calling us to step up and make a difference. My father heard it, and he responded by planting good seeds for others to harvest.
The seeds we plant for others in the world are determined by what we’ve allowed to grow inside us.
We have seeds of divinity and seeds of degeneracy planted in our souls. The ones that grow are the ones we cultivate.
Truth is, we’re always planting seeds for others to harvest. It’s just a question of whether they’re noxious weeds or delicious fruit.
The kind words we plant today can flourish into the fruit of confidence for those we touch. Words spoken in anger can plant the seeds of resentment and bitterness.
The acts of service we perform today can blossom into love and joy that spread like wildflowers. The selfishness we sow today will be reaped as pain and heartache later — not only for ourselves, but more importantly, for others.
If we want our external world to flourish, we must care vigilantly for our internal world. The plants we allow to grow in our hearts become fertilizer for our choices and actions. And the seeds planted by our choices and actions are ultimately harvested not just by ourselves, but also by others.
A song in my “Inspiration Library” is “I Was Here” by Beyoncé Knowles:
I wanna leave my footprints on the sands of time
Know there was something that meant something that I left behind
When I leave this world, I’ll leave no regrets
Leave something to remember, so they won’t forget
I was here I lived, I loved I was here
I did, I’ve done everything that I wanted
And it was more than I thought it would be
I will leave my mark so everyone will know I was here…
On a corner lot in Round Rock, Texas grow forty feet of blackberries, which I’ll never harvest. But someone will, because I planted them.