Funny how time seems to have flown this year, and yet at the same time, has seemed to drag. What now feels like a lifetime ago is just 6 months. My partner and I were fortunate enough to move to a new home. As well as the cottage itself dating back to 1808, the main draws were the rural setting and large gardens front and rear. Moving in February, the gardens and surrounding countryside appeared bare, drab and devoid of life. Six months on and this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Whilst due to the global pandemic the world currently feels full of scarcity, nature is abundant. The contrast couldn’t be more stark.

This has been a great reminder about what really matters. I get so much from the simple pleasures. Like listening to the rain drumming on the window, the butterflies alighting momentarily on a flower, the dawn chorus of birdsong, the gentle summer breeze.

Today was one such day. I picked our first bumper crop from one of our apple trees. It took me back to my childhood to climb a tree again. It was a glorious morning with the red and green of the apples standing out against the azure blue sky. As I gathered in the crop, I reflected upon the lessons this task offered me:

  • I had to step outside my comfort zone to get what I wanted - Knowing how accident prone I can be, climbing a tree is no small undertaking. Had I have stayed safely on the ground, I would not have achieved half the crop. Taking a calculated risk pays off 
  • Take a 360 degree view - By looking straight ahead only, I missed the majority of apples nearby. Changing direction and perspective provided many more options. Slow down to go fast
  • What I wanted was often just out of reach - Even with a handy tool, it is not always easy to reach what I was after. It took effort, perseverance and ingenuity. But investing the effort was more than repaid by my results
  • Creativity  - I tried many techniques to maximise my yield of apples. I thought laterally and made sure to try different approaches for different situations
  • Variety is the spice of life (for me) - I am sure that some prefer the familiar, but I’m more of a renaissance man. Turning my hand to different tasks keeps me interested and engaged. In need of excitement? Mix things up

So why am I writing about picking apples? Well, I am conscious that many in the world are facing change right now. Whether this is due to health, economic or social reasons, this can feel hard. It is easy to be overwhelmed when everything is unfamiliar. I wanted to offer up a different perspective. What if this is instead an opportunity? What if this is the nudge you’ve been waiting for to do something different, something that you really want to do? Have the courage and go for it! Standing out from the crowd requires doing something different from everyone else. And yes, you can do it.

What of the apples? The six large bags gathered will soon be on their way to be pressed for apple juice. In a few weeks, we receive back a share of the output in the form of bottles of juice. One beautiful thing is turned into another and will bring that simple pleasure through the months to come.