The fruit and the tree


“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.”
-Emerson

My mandarin orange tree had an amazing harvest this year. This is the first year the tree gave me fruit. nFruit could be considered the tree’s purpose. 

But for the fruit, the tree is its support system. The oranges are each their own individual selves. 

They couldn’t exist without the tree. 

I recently heard a psychiatrist talking about people’s identities. He said that young children may explore identities, but as they get just a bit older the rest of their peers and family push back against their imagination and help them fit into the world. Adjusting their identities and sense of self in the world. 

My mandarin oranges were not very respectful of the tree. What happened is that the oranges were so very lush and heavy that the branches literally broke. I saw this happening, and braced branch before it tore completely off. The fruit  was able to finish ripening, but then I had to cut the whole branch off. 

People’s families are called trees. You can research your family tree. 

As humans we have agency to change our behavior and not damage our society. And as an individual fruit I can pursue my own growth but adapt it if it’s damaging the source I’m springing from. 

Circumstances and resources shape a tree and a person. We grow and stretch. We are also restricted by resistance and inhospitable conditions. 

My human agency allows me to make choices and aim toward the greater fulfilment of my indentity.  

And my experience with my poor mandarin reminds me to pay attention to needs of my society. 

I am part of a system. I did not spring from nothing.  

Books

I read like an alcoholic drinks. 

I’ve got books hidden around in various places. I am never far from a story. I fear running out. I plan ahead to make sure I am stocked up. I don’t want to hit rock bottom and have to resort to newspapers or magazines. I also do not like to re-read books. I want new stuff.  

I am ravenous for new ideas presented well. I am greedy for a thick juicy slab of characters, plot and prose. 

Someone said that reading is the most efficient way to get knowledge. There is so much straight up information in books. The how-to, the what happened, the facts or rules that must be referenced are so well kept in books. 

And then there are the worlds I can enter. An author strings words together that create a universe for me to inhabit. I can enter the mind of a psychotic person, or an animal or even –as in the case of Flatland—a single dimensional dot. 

Every adventure imaginable from the comfort of my own home. 

But that’s not all!  

Each piece of writing is a time capsule. Authors are capturing viewpoints of a particular moment. When I wonder how people at a certain time regarded things, and a book tells me. I can tell what types of people were admired, and who disappointed. 

When a book is ready widely enough, it actually changes the culture after it is published. I recently reviewed Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a book that dramatically changed American beliefs and resolve about the evils of slavery. Even as the book itself captured the viewpoints of Americans, it changed them. 

What power in the written word! I cannot get enough of them. 

And yeah, I want to talk about what I’m reading. I think it’s fascinating. I’d love it if my conversation partner has read the book too, but it’s not required. 

But there is a strange block of shame. People feel ashamed that they are not readers and put themselves in the penalty box. It’s okay! I’ll tell you about it and you can learn enough from me for us to talk about it. 

Sometimes people will talk with me. Sometimes they won’t. 
 
But I’m still enjoying my books. In fact, I have created a YouTube Channel to talk about the books I’m reading. You can go there to find out what I’ve been reading. If you want to talk to me about the books I’ve read I would love to hear what you think. 

You can respond hit reply to this newsletter to discuss. 

Plans were made to be broken

A big part of my job as project manager is to make plans. People need a plan to get things done. When I make a plan, the best thing in the world is to be able to predict what will be happening in the next little bit.

That’s what a plan is: I will do this, and this will be the result.

Plans are like science- they love to be sure and stable. Reliably executeable.

But the world changes under us. We use what information we know, and then we find out more. Then, as more people find out more even bigger changes happen.

I remember the plans that we made for COVID a year ago, back when it was still called the Coronavirus. I took steps and made concessions. And then I found out more and did things differently.

It was only a year ago but it seems very distant now. I had such limited information, and plans were made and remade on a very frequent basis.

The reality is, things are always changing. But I can’t help but make plans.

I’m a kid with a set of blocks. I will stack them, build them with delight and then they get knocked down.

They are always knocked down.

Plans are what I do, and yet I also know no battle plan survives first contact with the enemy.

The blocks crash. They always crash.

It’s sad when they are knocked down. But the happiest kids start making a new stack immediately.

I’m not always the happiest kid.

But it helps to remember that the blocks are all still there. I can build again, and this time it will be magnificent. Until it falls again, but I don’t have to think about that yet.

Something new is ready to be created, and I can’t wait to get started.