Oranges & Lemons

I was in my yard this weekend picking the oranges and lemons off our citrus trees and it got me thinking. Did you know that picking fruit actually helps the fruit trees? When you remove fruit from a tree, it lessens the burden on the tree to provide resources to that fruit. As such, these resources like water and nutrients can be used by the tree for things like growth and repair, or to give life to new blossoms and new fruit. If you do not pick the fruit from the tree, the tree becomes taxed with the job of providing nutrition for many fruits instead of just a few. This spreads the tree’s resources rather thin and all of the fruits can suffer, as none of them is getting enough sustenance.

I think this understanding is powerful as it relates to our human lives. Often, we spread ourselves so thin, saying ‘yes’ to everything and ‘no’ to nothing, and the result is that we feel like we aren’t able to give our all to anything! If you have ever seen a driver weaving between lanes, cell phone front and center, tapping out a text while trying to merge onto the highway, you understand the dangers of taking our limited resource of attention and apportioning it to too many things at once. And this doesn’t even take into consideration that this driver may be eating, playing with the radio, and on a call, too. The nutshell here is that we often spread ourselves too thin and we could take a lesson from the orange and lemon trees among us- trim off whatever ‘fruit’ you can so that the limited resources you have in any given day or any given moment can be focused on only what is most important to you.

Another thought I had was this: we pick the oranges and lemons that are either ripe and ready to come off, or the ones that are damaged and are just a drain on the tree’s resources. I have seen so many examples of people continuing to support ‘damaged fruit’ in their lives, to the detriment of the good fruit that could still be growing. A prime example of this is self-sabotage. When we sabotage ourselves, it’s like we’re feeding damaged fruit instead of healthy fruit that could be growing strong.  Another example of this is maintaining unhealthy relationships, jobs, or other toxic situations in our lives. When we give our energy to that which no longer serves us, we waste it and use up that resource that we could have put towards something that would instead help us grow.

Finally, when you pick the fruit from your fruit trees, you make room for new fruit to blossom and grow. Each growing season gives rise to a citrus tree’s opus. Gathering all of its resources and directing nutrients and water towards the tiny buds, the tree creates new life. When all of the prior season’s fruit has dropped, there is room to create anew. This is a lot like our human lives, in that we are given many, many opportunities to grow, to create our own opera. Perhaps you are even reading this now and wondering what might be possible in your own life, were you to ‘prune your trees’ and make room for your own new growth, your own opus.

Exercise: Draw a picture of a fruit tree (it doesn’t have to be a perfect drawing, just scrawl a tree and some shapes that resemble fruit to you). After you draw the fruit, take a moment and label each of the fruits. Which are taking your resources and shouldn’t be? Which are ripe and ready to be picked? Which can you prune back to make room for something new and what do you envision that new fruit might be?

To your growth,