In a world of instant gratification and light speed technology, it’s easy to forget that great things happen in little tiny increments over time. We’re not used to waiting. What used to be normal correspondence is now call “snail mail,” because it takes a relative eternity to receive good news through the U.S. Postal Service vs. the dependable immediacy of The Internet. Yet, the speed with which a flower grows hasn’t changed. Some of our highest hopes and greatest dreams for ourselves are more like a daffodil than a social media post. They take time to grow. Sometimes, a very long time. I’m talking over a decade. This reality can feel overwhelming and discouraging. My suggestion- have the long-range plan and focus on the step you’re on. “Little by little, step by step, it happens.” Trust this.
In 2006, my dear friend, Alex, gave my family a lovely plant as a housewarming gift. That was 3 homes ago. As we moved, it moved with us. Although he told me it was a lemon tree, for years and years, it failed to outgrow it’s initial houseplant pot or bear fruit. However, 10 years later in home number three since we took ownership, it’s “suddenly” thriving. We’re astonished! Lo and behold, the lemon tree is growing like gangbusters, and indeed- ornamented with lemons-aplenty. If you’ve ever seen “Little Shop Of Horrors,” it’s a little like seeing “Seymour,” the venus fly trap, grow to the ceiling. Now in a giant pot fit for a tree, it indeed lives up to its name, with at least 17 lemons dangling from it’s far reaching branches. (I counted this morning.) Why this plant lasted with us so long given its meager beginnings has one explanation- it was from Alex. If not for it’s sentimental value, we would’ve tossed it in the first move. But since we hung onto it for a decade to honor our friend, we’re rewarded every time we serve fish or make guacamole–not to mention, look out the window.
Despite the hyper-speed hype, this is really how life unfolds; very gradually. Raising two boys and a puppy brings it home for me, as well. I get to see them go through every stage along the way to becoming men and mature canine. How long this takes is relative. Every parent has heard, “they grow up so fast.” And yet, it takes 18 years or more! That’s not fast by today’s standards. If I have to vote, however, I think the old adage holds. It does go by quickly, even though the changes occur microscopically, day by day. What does not go by quickly by any stretch are the career goals. The patience its taken to become an advertising copywriter, author and most recently, clinician, has been interminable at times. And yet, agonizingly slow step by step, eventually the human development tree bears fruit.
If nature takes its time to grow lemons, people and pets, why should’t we take a bit of time to tap our potential? Those habits we build of going to the gym, meditating or saving money reap results when we “stick with it” for the long haul. The same is true of our ultimate visions for ourselves. Careers worth having take time, experience, mistakes, resilience, re-invention and perserverence to eventually thrive. When I consider the accomplishments of those I admire and contemplate my own life as well, it’s clear that a key to success is staying on course, one step at a time. In this day and age, we can cook fast, communicate fast, make a movie and broadcast it on Youtube fast, and even hookup for a little action, fast. It’s convenient but misleading. Human potential is really more like the lemon tree than Tinder. Remember that when you lose patience. Good things will come, all in good time. “Slow down, calm down, don’t worry, don’t hurry. Trust the process.”- Alexandra Stoddard.