You Can't Be An Orange Tree
Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love the book, The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, by Dan Millman. It was a hugely influential book in my life given to me by a hugely influential person in my life, my wife : ) years ago.
Last night I was reading a children's story by Dan Millman to my kids. It's a cute story about how a young Dan overcomes a bully at school. In Dan's first encounter with Socrates, the old man who becomes Dan's teacher in the original story, he is helping him pick apples from a tree that Soc has in his yard.
Dan wants to learn how to run fast like his friend Joy so he can outrun the bully. He asks Soc to teach him how to be a fast runner. Soc replies, in the way that so many of the "wisdom teachers" do, by not directly answering the question, but by telling a seemingly unrelated story for the moment. Soc tells Dan how he has had his apple tree since it was just a sapling. He has watered it, pruned it, and taken care of it, every day. But no matter what he does he can't make it produce oranges!
Dan is understandably confused. Soc explains that he didn't make Joy a fast runner he simply showed her how to awaken that natural talent. He tells Dan that he has other talents, unique to him. He instructs Dan, that instead of wanting to have someone else's gifts he needs to learn how to uncover his own. You can't turn an apple tree into an orange tree no matter how hard you try. That's just not what it is.
What are your natural talents and gifts? How do you nurture them? Because they are part of our souls' tapestry when you tap into them it feels good. You feel more in harmony and flow with life. In contrast, if you try to turn apples into oranges, putting your focus in the wrong area you can feel the pain and struggle of doing so. That is not to say that there may be difficult lessons that you need to learn in this lifetime or that if you have unlocked your natural gifts then there won't still be struggles. Most likely there will be. Regardless, we should investigate within. The Sanskrit word for this is svadhyaya, which means self-introspection and reflection. An easy way to start this reflection is to ask yourself three questions. Who am I? What am I doing? Why am I doing it? Keep asking these three questions daily and you will start to uncover a deeper understanding of your identity, your motives, and your gifts.
So here's to growing an abundant supply of apples!