My first job was working at an apple orchard. My brothers and I were paid twenty-five cents per box of apples that we picked up from the ground. Since these apples had already fallen, they were not able to be sold for eating. So they were used to make cider. There was a decent amount of opportunity to make some money from this deal. If we were diligent about our work, filling a box was not too difficult or time consuming. Generally speaking though, we weren’t overly effective at our job. We semi-lazy preteens who spent as much time talking as we did picking, probably more.
Although we were not titans of the cider industry, that experience held a lot of lessons in it. Recently I started thinking about the actual apples though. The most valuable apples are the ones that are picked at the right time and sold for eating. The ones that fall to the ground are worth far less as cider or possibly worth nothing if they rot. Although it doesn’t happen much with apples, there are fruits that “die on the vine.” Usually this is due to a lack of nourishment. While most of don’t give much thought to the growth of fruit, we just buy it at the store, have it sit on the counter for a week and forget to eat it before it goes bad. Or maybe that’s just me at the moment! Regardless, it is a great metaphor for our dreams and goals. It got me thinking about how most dreams die. Do they die on the vine due to a lack of nourishment? Or do they fall before they’ve been picked, essentially a lack of timing or attention.
It’s really hard to say because it depends on a lot of factors. However, if I was pressed for a guess, I’d say that it was more than likely that most dreams die on the vine rather than falling to poor timing. Humans are amazing creatures with so many positive attributes. Despite all of the positives that we possess, there is rampant pessimism within our species. We tend to see all of the things that could go wrong before we even start. Therefore we do not pump the metaphorical juice into things. Our preference is to only give resources to the fruits that we “know” will ripen. On the one hand, this is not a bad strategy. We do not have infinite resources: time, energy, attention, etc. These are only a few of the ingredients that are needed to bring anything to life. So the high probability (low hanging) fruit may seem like the right move. Unfortunately it tends to leave almost nothing for the low probability but more valuable dreams. So much of life is spent producing results that just about anyone could.
We watch as our dreams shrivel and die as they get none of our time and attention. Yet our boxes are filled with “cider apples” that do not inspire us or anyone else. They represent a variety of minimal effort endeavors that we do not long or ache for. We only chose them because they were basically guaranteed to work out. So maybe this apple season, it is time to let some of those easy dreams fall to the ground in favor of a few long shots. It’s possible that you’ll come up empty handed. Or maybe you’ll find that that sweet juices were worth the extra effort!
You won’t know until you try!