Success is steady progress toward one’s personal goals.
When winter’s white snarl gave way to spring’s green celebration, two seeds drifted on the wind into a green meadow. Both seeds were tiny but landed firmly in rich soil. They were ready to grow and soon they became small sprouts.
After several days, the two sprouts were several inches tall. They basked in the sun and drank in the rich nutrition from the soil and water in the meadow. They felt blessed for having blown into such a fine, sunny meadow.
One sprout turned to the other as they drank in the warm sunlight and said, “What a fine meadow! How lucky we are to have landed here. I want to grow as fast as possible so I can be taller and bigger than all the other plants.”
“That’s fine and good,” the other sprout said, “but I want to expand my roots into this fertile soil and work on growing stronger before I get too tall. If it ever gets cold or floods, or if there’s any strong wind, I want to be ready.”
“Storms and wind! How foolish! Look how the sun shines on our leaves. And look at these grand trees, flowers and grasses that grow around us. See how tall they are? Do you think they waited to grow tall? They did not worry about rain or winter. They grew as fast as they could to reach for the heavens. You worry too much, my friend.”
The first sprout, confident that his point had been made, went back to soaking up the sun and taking in nutrients from the rich soil.
A few weeks later the second sprout looked over at the first sprout and marveled at how tall it had become. Many leaves had sprouted from its tall stalk and it was now much bigger than some of the surrounding plants. The first sprout had only grown a couple of inches during those weeks.
“Well, hello down there!” the first sprout cried down to the second sprout.
“You have grown so tall, my friend!” the second sprout shouted back up.
“Yes, indeed I have. I told you! I have put all my effort into upward growth and look where I am now. I am even taller than these grasses that have been growing for many years!”
“It’s quite impressive,” the second sprout said, beginning to doubt his own meager growth.
“Don’t worry, my friend, perhaps if you would put all your effort into upward growth, you could enjoy the grand views up here with me.”
Perhaps I should, thought the second sprout. It does seem nicer up there and I bet the view is fantastic!
Several more months passed in the peaceful meadow. Light rains came and cool breezes blew through, refreshing all the grasses and trees. Mostly the sun bathed the quiet meadow in golden life-giving light.
Both sprouts were now much larger and taller, occupying their own space in the meadow. The first sprout was much taller than all of the grass, flowers and ferns that grew around it. Only the trees were taller. The second sprout was still growing at a steady pace, but was not as tall as the fast-growing first sprout who reached for the clouds.
“Someday I’ll be as tall as these trees!” the first plant boasted. “Maybe a few more months of sunshine and rain and I will be as tall as the towering cypresses and oaks.”
“I’d like to be as tall as the trees, too,” the second plant chimed in.
“We can’t all be trees, little friend. It takes a fast grower to become a tall tree in this meadow! I’m afraid that you’re growing too slowly. It would take you years, even decades, to grow into a tree! It wouldn’t be worth it.”
“Well, I’d still like to try!”
“Of course. Try as much as you’d like. Someday you may grow as tall as me.”
The sunny days grew warmer and the plants grew taller. The rain became less frequent. The first plant turned a little brown, but still it grew taller every day. The second plant remained green but grew at the same steady pace. Soon the rains returned, but they brought cooler nights with them. As the nights grew colder the plants became browner and drier.
“I feel so tired,” the first plant said to the second. “And it’s getting cold out here! Look at how the trees are dropping all of their beautiful green leaves.”
“Yes, it is getting very cold! It’s also becoming drier. My roots have had to grow deeper to get more water.”
“Water? You must be joking. I haven’t had water in a week! You can’t still be getting water.”
“Oh, yes, the soil is still warm and full of nutrients if you go deep enough.”
“Well, soon it will warm up and we’ll have the sun and the rain back, like before.”
“Let’s hope so.”
But the sun’s warmth didn’t return to the meadow for a long time. There was a little rain, but it quickly soaked into the earth. The grass browned and the trees stood barren. The brown quickly turned into white as bitter winds blew across the barren meadow.
The two plants sat still in the snow.
I hope my friend is OK in this cold! thought the second plant. The two plants didn’t speak all winter. Finally the second plant began to notice a warm tingle in the breeze as the white blanket began to disappear slowly. The green crept back into the world as cool rains replaced snowstorms.
“What a long winter!” exclaimed the second plant, yawning and rustling newly grown leaves in the cool breeze. There was no reply from the first plant. The second plant noticed that there was no green returning to the first plant’s stalk and leaves. “Are you all right?” asked the second plant again, still with no response.
As the spring turned to summer, the second plant grew taller and stronger, growing a strong stalk and deep roots. The plant grieved the loss of a friend and wondered what had happened during the winter months.
Soon the second plant towered over the dried remains of the first plant. One especially dry day a vicious wind tore through the meadow, carrying dust and dried plants far away. As the second plant looked on, the first plant was easily torn from the ground and carried off in the wind. The second plant cried after the poor plant, but it was too late. The first plant was gone forever.
As another year passed the second plant grew taller and taller. As the plant became larger than all the other plants, it had a greater view of the surrounding meadow.
One summer day, as the plant was soaking up the springtime sun, it heard a soft, deep voice say, “Welcome to the great family of trees.” It was a mighty oak tree speaking.
“Thank you. So I am a tree?”
“Yes, of course you are! You have grown tall and strong. You’re ready to shade and protect this meadow.”
“I’m glad to be a tree, but I have a question about my friend. Why was my friend not able to become a tree? Why did it die in the cold, wind and rain?”
“Because its roots were not deep and its stalk was weak. It focused so much on upward growth that it neglected to push strong roots into the earth and fortify its base and stalk. It grew too tall too fast. When the cold months came it could get no water, warmth or nutrients, like you. You took years to reach your height and will continue to grow at this steady pace. Although slow, you have the strength of a thousand winds within you. We trees stand the test of time against the elements because we grow at a steady pace.”