Last week my wife and I spent an evening at Crater Lake National Park. While the deep blue water of the lake is reason enough to visit, I was there primarily for the clear, dark, moonless sky that would prove ideal for stargazing. (The sunset and following sunrise were a delightful bonus!) Seeing the Milky Way over Crater Lake was an Oregon bucket list item I was looking forward to checking off.
Wile we were at an overlook on the east side of the lake, with our picnic dinner watching the sunset, we met a guy named Aaron from Columbus Ohio that was traveling through Oregon after a recent business trip. He was telling us that he and his wife were eager to move out to Oregon after some family obligations that wee keeping them in Ohio.
We continued taking as the sun set, until finally the darkened sky revealed the Milky Way that stretched overhead from north to south. It was absolutely beautiful.
The three of us took turns pointing out satellites, and shooting starts and unanimously agreeing that this was awesome.
It was awesome, and not just the starts. I think it was awesome that even during this season of so much division and turmoil in our country and world, my wife and I could share such a cool experience with someone who, hours before was a stranger, but someone who left as a friend.
May we all be on the lookout for opportunities to share a kind word, friendly conversation, or cool experience with those around us.
“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin […]” ~Zechariah 4:10
The first stages of a new venture always seem small. Whether it’s getting in shape, building and growing a business, pursuing an educational goal, building a new house, learning a new skill, or any number of big worthy pursuits, the initial steps are small and feel insignificant when compared to the overall goal. However, it’s important not to poo-poo this stage in the process, because from small, seemingly insignificant beginnings are where great things start.
Very rarely (actually never, in my experience!) does a big goal start out as a great success in the early stages. Significant results come slow initially, and require consistent effort over time… lots of time! This is where people can feel like they aren’t making progress, become frustrated, and give up on their goal during the small beginnings.
For this reason, it’s important to be aware that our big goals will grow from small beginnings, so we shouldn’t be surprised or disappointed by them. Small beginnings should be an expected, and even welcomed, part of the pursuit of our goals.
Is there a goal you’ve recently started that you’re feeling frustrated by? Does the lack of perceived progress leave you considering giving up on your goal? If so, I encourage you to look at this time as the small beginnings of your larger goal; much like the progress of the growth of a large oak tree. Would you be frustrated with an oak that was only a few inches tall after a year? Out of frustration, would you pull that young oak out of the ground and throw it away because it wasn’t a full-grown mature oak after such a short time? Of course not!
Then why would we do that with our goals?
I did it! I potted and started pruning my first Bonsai tree. Last week I wrote about how I finally caused something to happen to get me int Bonsai. Now I’m learning that although I’ve discovered much about potting, pruning and shaping, there’s still a lot I don’t know, but that’s not keeping me from getting started.
After I got my juniper start, I was reading how to pot it and discovered that there is a lot written about the soil you should use. Apparently, there are certain soil mixtures that work best for certain trees. I found myself getting overwhelmed with what specific kinds of soil to use, where to get it, and whether I was making the right choice. Ultimately, all these questions were keeping me getting the juniper potted.
Finally, after much reading, and little success finding the perfect soil mixture, I bought a plain old bag of Bonsai soil and got it potted. Maybe the exact soil would have been a better choice, but for me, the more important point is to just get started and learn as I go.
My plan with learning Bonsai is to gather enough knowledge to take the next step… and then to take it. I can always check my results and adjust my actions as I gain experience.
I’m grateful we don’t have to have all the answers before we get started on a new endeavor. For me, a lot of the fun comes from learning as I go.
For about 2.5 decades I’ve had this recurring interest in Bonsai trees. I’m intrigued by their shape and diminutive size and how you can shape them and train them to get the look you’re after. I’ve always thought, “that would be fun to get into”, but I never have… until now.
A few weeks ago, I began thinking about Bonsais again, only this time I caused something to happen. I watched a video of Bonsai expert Peter Chang pruning an Alberta Spruce from a nursery. That caused me to go to the library and checkout (and read!) some books on Bonsai. That caused me to run down to a local nursery and pick up a small juniper that I will shape and train into a beautiful Bonsai tree. I’m finally getting into Bonsai!
This week I was reminded that, if we are interested in a desired result, how important it is to cause something to happen toward that end. The video lead to the books, which lead to purchasing a small plant I will shape and pot. It isn’t until we take action that will cause something to happen that things actually start happening.
So, what do you need to cause to happen?
This summer the blueberry bushes at my house have been going crazy! We have 3 young bushes and for the past several years they’ve been somewhat light in the production department. This year, however, they seemed to have turned a corner and re producing more berries that we can keep up with. It’s quite a change from years past when they produced only a couple of handfuls per season.
Fortunately, my wife and I were aware that it takes a time for the bushes to mature before they start yielding a large quantity. Therefore, we weren’t mad at the bushes in the early years. We didn’t put the plants in the ground one day and expect a bumper crop the next. We realize that it takes time
These bushes remind me that learning something new also involves a process that takes time. We all know this. Yet we often become frustrated with ourselves when we expect to be further along in the process after only a short time. The best thing we can do when learning a new skill is to realize that it will take time… and to be ok with that. We simply have to put in the effort over time and the results are sure to follow.
Here’s a fun thing you can do to observe the impacts of time on something you’re actively trying to learn. Write yourself an email that will be sent to you one year from today. In that email describe what you’re attempting to lean and the level of skill you currently possess. When you read the email next year, you’ll likely be amazed at how far you’ve come.