Here's a story about gardening and hope.
The first day I was sure it wasn't going to frost again until fall, I planted green pepper plants. The two of them can cross-pollinate for maximum productivity. There are plenty of pollinators to do that. I put the plants in good dirt, with good sunlight, and I water them every day it doesn't rain. I fertilized once before anything blossomed (too much fertilizer once vegetables set on is one reason store-bought veg can taste bitter.) They are pest- and blight-free so far as I can tell.
You might predict I'd get a lot, or a least a steady, supply of green peppers. Nope. I thought so too. They grew well, and soon a couple of blossoms appeared on each plant. One on each plant set on, and then I got exactly one green pepper from each plant. Then they just stopped blooming, growing taller, or adding any leaves. Why? Still not sure. I imagined the plants snickering and thinking, “Ha-ha! You shoulda read the label. It says 'green pepper', not 'green PEPPERS” plant. You only get one per plant.”
After two months, I was tempted to give up on them. To uproot them and plant something else in my limited space. My care and patience were being met with total indifference. But...
Awhile ago, a bunch of blossoms appeared. Then six little peppers set on. I picked the biggest two green (the plants are still pretty small and were leaning over from the weight of the peppers). The next two I picked somewhat red. Turns out, red peppers are just green peppers that have been on the plant longer. And the last two are ripening to that bright red, still on the plants. I've enjoyed lots of salads and fajitas with peppers.
The whole time I believed I was caring for these plants without any sign or return that it made any difference... but it made a difference to them. When the plants were able, they responded. I still don't understand why they had such a tough time in what seemed like such great conditions. But if I'd given up hope and uprooted them, they never would have grown to their potential and been so fruitful.
At some point, you can decide to stop nurturing the situations in your life that aren't bearing any fruit. Just maybe... not yet.
Gregory Hanks has taught community college for upwards of 17 years. He's helped thousands of students achieve more of their potential, write better, and earn their degrees. In 2017, he left a traditional teaching role to help more people like you get better results, faster.
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