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Small and Green and Hard

“At first the fruit is small and
green and hard.
Everything has dreams,
hope, ambition
– Mary Oliver, Someday

I was thinking about a post I made on social media three years ago next month. Newfoundland. I’d gotten up early, as I usually do, and drove to the eastern edge of the continental North America for sunrise. A month after that photo I was on the western edge of continental Europe taking in the the crashing ocean and looking back towards where I was from.

I looked like quite a world traveler on social media, but a week after that trip to Portugal I was unemployed. I didn’t post that on social media. I just scrambled to reach out to my contacts and find meaningful work as quickly as possible. We tend to amplify the positive: trips, events, big meals, relationships… the highlight reel stuff.

That month of unemployment transformed my writing from a once in a while thing to an every day thing. I switched from Blogger to WordPress, found my voice through repetition and trips to local places, read a lot, and mostly just wrote. The fruit of my labor is still small and green and hard, but I see it ripening. At least I believe it to be so.

We’re all works in progress, they say. Mastery is elusive. Ten thousand hours elusive. Lifetime elusive. But the art is in the doing, day in and day out. When the fruit is small and green and hard and you’re hungry it seems like it will never ripen. But being a bit hungry is where the art comes from. There’s nothing burning inside when you’re well-fed and satiated. The mind says maybe this is enough.

In the spring my apple trees were a wonder of showy blooms. I was thrilled and dreamed of a rich harvest. But the dry summer transformed that bounty of blooms into a few deformed, tiny apples. By contrast the grapes were bountiful this year and fed the birds and yellow jackets when I couldn’t keep up. Funny the way two plants of the same age react to the same conditions, isn’t it?

Everything has dreams, hope, ambition. We never know what will ripen and bear fruit. How the seasons will shape us. But fruit withers without focused energy. So we must keep at it.

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