One Apple A Dy #701 – You reap what you sow and take care of

I was quite a lazy student. But luckily for me, the way school worked was a good fit for my inclinations, and that convinced my younger self that he was a smart guy.

It was my second year at university, and I was still sure I could carve my way out of almost every exam just by being smart. I was sitting before my physics professor for the second part of the exam; the oral test.

Physics was not one of my favourite subjects, but the professor taught very well, and I managed to score a good result in the written test without studying much.

I thought I was doing quite well when he came up with a question that left me speechless. I had only a vague idea of what he was talking about, so I started talking hoping that, if I keep putting words out there, I could find a connection that works.

After a few minutes, he smiled and stopped me.

You don’t know the answer, right?

Before I could say something, he continues “You remember me when I was your age. You think you’re smart, and that that is enough to carve your way through anything. But let me tell you, at some point, you’ll have to put in some work. Better sooner than later.

At that time, I paid attention only to the first part, and I took it as a compliment.

Later I realised that it was a wake-up call.

Having a gift is not enough. 

We need to do the work to make that gift grow.

They say that you reap what you sow. 

But that’s half of the story.

If you don’t water the seeds and take care of the plants every day, you won’t have anything to harvest.

You reap what you sow and take care of.

One Apple A Day #697 – recharge

Many years ago, I was going through a tough time. With my life turned upside-down, I was feeling lost without any ideas on how to rebuild myself up.

Following someone suggestion, I went to talk with a psychologist; a wonderful small lady packed with energy and pragmatism. In one session, I was sharing, as usual, all my ruminations about my situation, my loneliness and my struggles. When I paused, she looked at me, and she said something I can’t forget.

“Stop thinking and go out. Do something, meet people. Introspection requires energy, and if you don’t have it, you’ll just get lost in the darkness. Go out, recharge your batteries, and when you’re happy and in the right mood, you can go back to digging again.”

Her message stayed with me since then. I feel it is still a piece of good advice, in particular at this moment. In periods of uncertainty and struggles like the one that many of us are going through, I feel it’s important to do things that energize us. Things that help us focus on the way forward. That doesn’t mean that we should ignore what’s happening and just have fun. I believe we should focus on creating meaningful relationships, expanding our strengths, sharing quality time with positive people, staying in nature, having inspiring conversations, expose ourselves to beauty. Anything that builds up our energy.

P.S. I’m not sure the conversation with my psychologist went like this, and those are not the exact words she used, but this is how I remember them.

One Apple A Day #677 – As straight as a string in a pocket

“As straight as a string in a pocket.”

When I was a teenager, I use to spend the summer working in my father’s factory. Being the youngest, I used to do a bit of everything. On some things, I was okay, in many others I sucked. One of the things I struggled a lot, was cutting wood panels. We used them in many situations, so it was a daily task. One that nobody enjoyed because it meant to be covered in sawdust. So, it was often my task. 

The problem is that apparently, I couldn’t cut a straight line no matter my efforts. I remember this guy looking at my work and saying that my cut was “as straight as a string in a pocket”.

This morning I was thinking of a few conversations I had in the last days about creative endeavours and the fact that they are never linear. At the contrary, they are quite often messy, with plenty of high peaks and deep lows, acceleration and moment of stuckness. Everyone would love for things to be linear and straight. That would make the journey more predictable and easier to measure. Unfortunately, it is not. 

A vital part of any creative journey is about embracing its messiness.

Because a creative journey is as straight as a string in a pocket.

One Apple A Day #730 – glued

When I was a kid, I loved to play with Lego.
I used to have this bucket with all the bricks in different shapes, sizes and colours. It was always an exciting moment when we emptied the bucket on the floor to build something new.
My other big passion at that time was watching giant robots tv shows from Japan.
It comes without saying that my favourite hobby was to build spaceships and robots with my Lego bricks.

Once – I think I was ten years old – I build a particularly good one. It was a big spaceship that could open and fit a smaller one. I was very proud of myself and my work. So proud that I took the glue and stuck all the pieces together. I wanted to preserve that piece of work forever. I put it on display in my room so I could watch it every day.

A few months later, my precious spaceship was already forgotten inside a box. Until one day, while I was building something else, I couldn’t find the pieces I needed. And then I remembered they were glued in my spaceship. I tried to dismount it with the only result to break most of the parts, making them useless.

I think there’s a life lesson about attachment there.
Personally, I never glued my lego bricks since.

One Apple A Day #726 – you are water

I am human.

You are human.

I know, I’m kind of stating the obvious here.

But is it?

How often do we forget that we are human beings? That we all are human.
Depending on the circumstances, I can assume many different shapes.

I can be a son, a brother, a writer, a coach, a driver, a voter, a customer, a worker, an employee, an Italian, a local, a stranger, a friend, an enemy and so on.

Though, beyond all those forms and shapes, I am human.
With all my feelings, wounds, beliefs, memories, hopes, fears, desires, dreams, shortcomings and talents.

I am human. Like you. Like everyone else.
And I’m writing it here, this morning, as a reminder to self.
Because anytime I forget we are all human, I lose the connection and my energy and will fade away.

Two waves in the ocean were having a conversation as they flowed toward shore. The larger wave was extremely depressed, and the small one was peacefully flowing along.
“If you could see what I see from up here,” says the large wave to the small one, “you would not be so happy.”
“Well, what is it?”
“In not too long, we will crash into the shore, and that will be the end of us.”
“Oh that,” says the small wave. “That’s okay.”
“What, are you crazy!?”
“No. I know a little secret that tells me it’s all okay,” says the small wave. “Would you like me to share it with you?”
At this point, the large wave friend is both curious and suspicious.
“Will I have to pay a lot of money to learn this secret?”
“No, not at all.”
“Will I have to do zazen [sitting meditation] for thirty years in the lotus position?”
“No, not at all,” says the small wave. “Really, the whole thing is only eight words.”
“Eight words!!! Well, tell me already!”
So the small wave says ever so gently, “You are not a wave. You are water.”

from The Mystery of Love By Marc Gafni