The Fruits of Life

It’s finally summer where I live, meaning that the temperatures soar and the sweet bounty of summer fruits abound. Although I’m not a huge fan of  the summer heat, every year I impatiently await the time when the local farmers market has summer fruits and vegetables that beckon to me with their sweet ripeness.

This week, I reflected on the parallel of life and fruit. Each piece of fruit must begin as a small seed, nurtured by rain and the sun’s warmth. Picked too early, it may never achieve its full ripeness (although some do). Left on its plant, it rots. But when it is ripe, it is bursting with abundant flavor and necessary nutrients. The whole purpose of a fruit or vegetable is to be consumed and to sustain the life of another creature.

Think about life. I remember a close friend who, many years ago, ended his life by his own hand. He was 24 and felt that his life was over because he was frustrated with what seemed to be a career in fast food. I remember grieving more about the love of his friends (of which he seemed unaware) and the discarded potential of who he could have been. He was the fruit picked too early that never achieved full ripeness. He never realized how much his gentle spirit and joyous laughter nourished everyone around him, and how much poorer we were for its loss.

On the other hand, I have witnessed many people who seem to fear life. For whatever reason, they stay with that which is comfortable and familiar. Sometimes the familiar is a town, a dead-end job, or an unhealthy relationship. On the occasion that these people have reached out to me to express their frustration and despair and the lack of joy in their lives, I have encouraged them to find the change they need — only to be told, “but I can’t do that!” Their inability to embrace change is a refusal of the gift of life that they have. Worse, their potential remains untapped and the nourishment and joy that they could give others eventually withers and dies. I feel a terrible sadness when I witness these people who fear life, but know that they alone have the choice to grow.

Life is a precious gift given to each of us. A friend of mine told me recently that the depth of emotion that I feel reflects how thoroughly alive I am.

Sunlight in the Redwoods
Thanks to D.M. for this beautiful picture!

The incredible ecstasy of watching the sun break through the trees in a forest and the crushing heartbreak that is part of loving someone is a testament to being completely, passionately ALIVE.  We were meant to feel, to take chances, to occasionally fail. Most of all, we are meant to live.

My closing thoughts for today are this:

Find those ripe fruits and enjoy every last drop of their sweetness.

Fall in love — joyously, passionately, giddily.

Try different jobs until you find the one that engages your passion.

Live in different places until you find the one that YOU like.

It’s never too late as long as you are alive.

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