Sometimes great wisdom comes from strange sources. In this case, it came from a longtime friend of mine who happens to be a master gardner. Having grown up on a farm, he learned the trade from his father and has always seemed to have the ability to make his gardens work magic. In particular, his tomato plants bear an immense amount of fruit. I’ve been envious of his skill for many years and recently asked him to divulge the secret to his lush tomato plants. “The secret is in the roots,” he said. “The more roots, the stronger the plant.”
This struck me, and I realized that his advice extends beyond a healthy tomato crop. The truth is, children and tomato plants have a lot in common: strong roots grow strong successful children. These strong roots come from a home full of consistent love and acceptance, literacy, respect, appreciation of others, curiosity for learning, and ultimately a sense of life’s purpose. Let me use my own children as an example. As you may know, my daughter Sarah is a photojournalism graduate with a flair for art. In fact, she manages all of the digital editing, photography, and visual look of this blog. Sarah first expressed an interest in photography when she was about 12 years old. Thank goodness I listened and encouraged her curiosity! I already had some experience with photography, and her newfound passion afforded us many hours of exploration time, talking, exchanging ideas, and generally having fu. We shared great experiences taking trips to photograph wildlife in Wyoming, antiques in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and even a watermelon festival in Pageland, SC.
Along with strengthening our relationship, the skills Sarah gained led her to major in photojournalism in college and to win numerous photography competitions. Now she uses the skills she learned to help design and manage this blog. In hindsight, I can see that our hours together hunting for the “Next Great Photo” shaped the roots of her professional career as well as her worldview. Sarah’s “roots” were her natural interest in art, the “fertilizer” were our trips, and now I am enjoying watching her grow. Pay attention to the roots you’re planting at your house: tend those tender little children and I’m sure they will grow into strong adults who bear plenty of fruit! Just a thought.
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