2016-2017 Live Deliberately Essay Contest
Spencer Day, 21
Honorable Mention, 19-21 Age Group
Brigham Young University
Cultivating and Harvesting Life’s Fruit Trees
My family loves Asian pears. Unfortunately, Asian pears are rather uncommon in supermarkets. Because of this, my father and I have planted multiple Asian pear trees in our yard, so that our family can enjoy the pears that grow. However, in my backyard, we also have a number of large shade trees. Because of these trees, two of the pear trees that we planted struggled to grow, and never bore pears larger than cherries. My father cut these pear trees down and there is no trace of them left. People all plant and cultivate many trees of ambition in the soil of their lives. Personal interests, responsibilities, and dreams are like trees which beautify, shape, and elevate our lives. These trees bear fruit which can sustain us through our lives. I have planted many trees of ambition in my own life, and I have seen some bear fruit, and some remain unfruitful for long periods of time. I have learned that it is important to deliberately recognize the outcome of the passions we pursue and to decide if the fruit we see is worth our time and efforts.
I play the violin, and I am currently studying violin at school. I enjoy a number of other hobbies, such as drawing, reading, gardening, and skiing. I realized early on in my life that my personal soil was not well suited to the sciences, or mathematics. Consequently, I have not strived to plant and nourish trees of scientific knowledge in my collegiate life. My main focus in school is in the study of music. If I were to pursue the study of art, or of literature along with my study of music, my life would become very much like my own backyard. Full of trees competing for all my resources, without cultivating the fruit I desire. Like Thoreau states, it is necessary to identify the trees in my life that bear fruit for me, and to direct my time and energies into cultivating those.
I mentioned that my family chose to cut down our unfruitful pear trees. It would seem the natural pear-lover’s course of action would be to cut down the shade trees for our pear trees to receive the elements they need to flourish. My family chose not to do this however, as the shade trees in my yard also shade my house, lowering our family’s energy consumption in the summer. My family prioritized this “fruit” over Asian pears. It is important to consider what kind of fruit we desire to harvest through our lives as we cultivate our own trees. I had a violin teacher in high school who always taped jokes to his wall. Among his collection of sarcastic comments, he also kept a paper that said “Life’s greatest failure is giving up what we want most, for what we want in the moment”. I frequently am asked what I am going to do with a degree in music. Frankly, the music industry is intensely competitive, and does not even offer a life-supporting salary. If I have as much chance being stuck by lightening, as getting a job as a musician, why am I studying music so vigorously right now? I believe that a profuse variety of fruits develop from the trees that we plant in our lives. Contrary to popular belief, some of our trees will grow money, and we must nurture those to realistically survive in this world. However, other trees provide fruits of happiness, and expertise that we can use to lift the ours, and the lives of those around us. Though music may not provide me a viable career path, I have chosen to nurture that tree because it provides my life with added value and meaning. This is something I want most in my life, more than anything I want at any moment.
At the end of our lives when the harvest is over, our success will not be defined by how tall our trees became, or how much fruit we have stored in our bank account, but how we found joy in cultivating and gathering our fruit. As Thoreau says, as much as our past trees lead us to other great opportunities, our life is a success. As we experiment with different trees in our lives, and cultivate our passions, we are successful as we deliberately enjoy the opportunities we receive to savor our fruit and to share it with others.