The other day, my husband, Don, and I transplanted an apple tree from its former home in a 5-gallon bucket into its new home in our yard.
The tree had been living in the bucket for maybe five months or so. After painstakingly digging a 3-foot wide, 2-foot deep hole (I feel it’s an important side note to mention that we live in an area where there are two inches of topsoil followed by as much red shale as you can imagine. This was a job for the pick-axe, and my back is still recovering!), we guided the tree out of its bucket.
Don held our very healthy, very happy little apple tree by its base and said, “Hmm. I would’ve thought the roots would be bigger by now.” To which I responded offhandedly, “Well, I guess it had everything it needed – water, nutrients – right there. Maybe the roots didn’t need to grow any bigger to sustain itself at that size.”
As we placed the tree in its new home, I thought about how true that statement is for us as well. I often find myself learning lessons about life from taking time to notice nature. And in this instance, it made me reflect that sometimes we’re very comfortable where we are: in our current home, job, personal relationships. We have everything we need, everything familiar, close at hand. But what might we be missing out on by staying there?
In the tree’s case, it never would have had the chance to bear fruit if it lived out its entire life in a 5-gallon bucket. Similarly, we won’t produce the fruit we’re intended to bear if we always stay where it’s most comfortable. What transitions are you currently in? Which ones have you been avoiding because of the discomfort you know you’ll experience? What fruit might wait for you on the other side?
There’s no question that being transplanted can be very uncomfortable. The instructions that came with the tree warned us to make sure we watered it consistently after it was moved to its new home; that sometimes trees go into shock when they undergo that kind of change. And what about us?
I can absolutely think back to times in my life when I went into shock while “in the transition.” Think about big changes you’ve gone though. Can you relate? You’re living your small game, and feeling just fine about it, when suddenly you’re either presented with an opportunity to go big, or you’re forced to. How have you handled it? Have you gone into shock?
Remember that the fruit is worth it. AND, you’ve got to “water yourself” (read: intentional self care) to be sustained in the meantime. What is your metaphorical water? What things can you do to care for yourself in the transition? For me, it’s generally the same: reading, being committed to daily physical, spiritual, and pause practices, and lots of time with close family and friends.
And there’s the other fact this tree presents us with: apple trees can’t produce fruit without there being at least two of them for cross-pollination. I believe the same is true for us. When we do transplant ourselves into our next big thing, we are more likely to flourish with a partner, or partners, close by to support us. Consider: who is in your support system? Who believes in your greatness? Who is committed to your growth? Who will stand by you through life’s changes?
We’ve got our tree’s partner in the driveway, just waiting for us to re-motivate enough to get back to the task of digging a second hole. And when we do, this tree, too, will have the chance to move from its own small home in a 5-gallon bucket, to a space where it will be nourished through its shock, kept company by its partner, and have the opportunity to live into its full potential.