Yesterday I read my daughter the oldest book on her bookshelf, Ruth Krauss’ The Carrot Seed. This 99-word story brilliantly tells the tale of a little boy who plants a carrot seed and continues to care for it, even though everyone in his family tells him it won’t come up. In the end (spoiler alert!), the carrot comes up and the boy needs a wheelbarrow to carry it away.
Cleary the story celebrates the values of faith and perseverance. What impressed me is the boy’s patience. Even without anyone discouraging him, it would take real dedication to keep watering and pulling weeds with nothing to show for it for 60 to 75 days.
How many of us are willing to wait 75 days for anything? We give up on diets, relationships, businesses, investments and all kinds of goals, simply because the desired results aren’t immediate enough. How many accomplishments have we missed simply because we quit too early?
The modern era is about speed. We get things faster than ever. We no longer wait for printed photos to come back from the film developer. We don’t sit by the mailbox anticipating correspondence from distant family and friends. We don’t wait for tomorrow’s paper to get today’s news. We expect things sooner, so being patient is getting harder. My kids have never waited for information or entertainment. Waiting is a skill they struggle with. That’s growing up in the 21st century.
I’m not complaining. I like the 21st Century. Technology has made this a really cool time to be alive. Given the choice, I’ll shop at Best Buy long before going to the general store. I like me my gadgets. Unfortunately, there’s a lot technology has not sped up yet. Many endeavors still require time and slow cultivation. That puts my fast brain at a disadvantage.
The little boy in The Carrot Seed grew up in a different environment than my kids. He didn’t have Wi-Fi, a microwave oven or On Demand television. Life was slower in the boy’s world, so attention spans were longer. Observing the growth of a carrot was the 1945 equivalent of watching SpongeBob. Why bother planting a carrot in the ground when today you can create an entire e-farm on you iPhone? There’s an App for that.
Slow results don’t mean things aren’t working. More likely things are still cooking.
Whether you’re pursuing a goal, creating something new or roasting a marshmallow, the longer you work without needing gratification, the bigger and better the payoff.
So plant your seed, give it attention and give it time. The final result will be well worth the wait.