Thursday, May 20, 2010

Progeny and Peach Trees

"The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago; the second-best time is today."

That sums up the best view of the whole "regret" thing. You can wish that you thought to plant that tree (like I did, in a rare moment of foresight, and with thanks to my Father-in-law) years ago, or or you can plant it today for your children and grandchildren (and even maybe you) to enjoy twenty years later.

And those peaches (from the tree planted with Papa-in-law's help) are some of the sweetest I've ever tasted. It's not the tree's fault that Colorado springtime weather can play naughty tricks on it.

What prompted this?

I sat down and had a talk with myself: "Self," I said, "If your child grows up with just these qualities," I listed the sure-thing qualities the young one has, "Will it be enough?"

I didn't want to answer myself.

Every parent wants their child to grow up to be {President, Rich, Famous, Smart, Able to Leap Tall Buildings, etc.}.

But what if the child is destined to be loving, kind and sweet? Just loving, kind and sweet.

Does that mean I write off everything else? Don't encourage her to stretch her wings and fly as high as she can? Be as smart as she can? Be as athletic as she can? To explore all the possibilities within her reach, and beyond it?

Do I write off all those things?

The difference between an Olympic Gold-Medalist and an also-ran is often the stuff of inches, or seconds ... or milliseconds. The eighth-place finisher is still faster than I'll ever be.

But, the spotlight will only be on the ones standing on the podium. And while we remember Michael Phelps (or, in a different decade, Peggy Fleming and Jean-Claude Killy), most of us are hard-pressed to remember even the other medalists, let alone the ones that hadn't stood to receive the prize.

But, to be strong enough, fast enough, skilled enough to even compete, is it enough?

If even that pinnacle is far out of reach, is it enough?

A wiser man than me once told an Olympic hopeful: "If you aren't enough of a man without the Medal, you won't be enough of a man with it."

The peach tree has borne a peach or two, one year and another over the years. Squirrels got most of those. Once, a few years back, the Colorado spring had mercy on it, and we had the most glorious peaches in the world.

Yeah, I'm partial.

But, only for that one year. We haven't had even a single peach since.

So, do I cut down that tree, because it has not repeated the performance?

Of course not.

Spring frosts have prevented the tree's repeat performance, not its willingness to produce. Meanwhile, it still puts out leaves, making the sugars and starches needed to grow the peaches, storing them in it's roots. In its way, the peach tree is planting itself for later, literally "Making hay while the sun shines," not letting what opportunities it has get away.

It expects to fruit out again some day. Better be ready. Grow those leaves, make those sugars, hide it all away. It will produce fine peaches again.

But, never a pear, no matter how much I encourage it, despite how much I like pears. I like peaches, but I really like pears...

So, is it enough?

Is it enough for the peach tree to be a peach tree, to bloom and bear fruit when its preparation meets opportunity?

Of course.

Is it enough when my child does all she is capable of, admitting no limit until thoroughly tested, to bloom and bear fruit of her own?

Of course.

It is enough for me to have her grow as strong as she can be, in all her strengths, even if my pet desires are not achieved in her?

Yes, I can love her for what she is (it is most certainly enough), and be content.

Yes, I can.

(Movie to watch with your kids: "Kung Fu Panda". No, really. Do it.)

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