The Buddha and the Tomato Plant.
Chip’s Editorial Comment: Scott is a wise soul and a great observer and writer. We’re lucky to have him as an MEA Baja neighbor and teacher.
Almost every morning I begin my day with a contemplation in the backyard. Nestled among the greenery, framed by some shrubs in a planter box, we have a statue of a Buddha. We're not even Buddhists, but we appreciate the peaceful imagery and symbolism.
One day early this past summer, I noticed a tomato plant had sprouted, perfectly spaced in front of the Buddha, exactly in the middle of his crossed legs, as if we had planted it there as an offering. I thought "Cool! It's a sign." Of what? Not sure, but I kept watching. A gift, for sure.
Over the next couple of months, the plant grew and grew. I observed with curiosity and hope. As the shoots stretched and expanded, I created a little support system for them with a stake and some connections to the other shrubbery around it. It ballooned, sprawling in the planter box until it completely obscured the Buddha.
Hmmm. Not good. Another sign.
But there was more. The plant was barren. No fruit came. It was all bush.
A few feet away, well to the side of the Buddha statue, another mystery tomato plant had sprung up. (How? From compost?) It was not nearly as flashy of a physical specimen. Low slung, thickly leaved, it was a third the size of the original. And…bursting with fruit. Beautiful little cherry tomatoes dotted the greenery.
I observed all of this for a couple more weeks, contemplating, waiting for fruit from the big one, which never came. I finally pruned and pruned and then just pulled the entire plant out, rewarded with the return of the peaceful Buddha's smile. Another sign.
As the calendar turned to 2024, I witnessed lots of discussion about resolutions and goals. A simple theme emerged for me.
The ability to judge well.
For me, it's about pruning. I've been running fast and staying busy, but… how much of that busy-ness is feeding my soul? How much of it is just habit, from the first half of my life, obscuring the part that is wise? Obscuring the real goal. The true treasure.
How much of my life is all bush with no fruit?
What is the fruit, even? What do I really want?
Joy. Love. Connection. Wisdom. Those seem like good places to start.
I love that MEA gives us a container, a beautiful space to ask these questions. To explore and then engage in the midlife edit.
And you, my friend? What will you prune this year to get the fruit you really want?
Scott Shute lives at the intersection of the workplace and ancient wisdom traditions. He blends his experience as a Silicon Valley executive with his lifelong practice and passion as a wisdom seeker and teacher. In his most recent role at LinkedIn, Scott was the Head of Mindfulness and Compassion programs. He has been a pioneer in creating workplace mindfulness programs and advancing the discussion around compassion in the work context. His latest venture, Changing Work, seeks to curate the best practices of conscious business and make them more widely available. He is the author of the award-winning book "The Full Body Yes". More at www.scottshute.com Scott is a facilitator at MEA and will be co-hosting with Shelley Paxton Feb 26 - Mar 2, "Awakening Your Rebel Soul to Reimagine Success"