There was a man who had four sons. He wanted his sons to learn not to judge things too quickly. So he sent them each on a quest to go and look at a pear tree that was a great distance away.
The first son went in the winter, the second in the spring, the third in summer and the youngest son in the fall. When they had all gone and come back, he called them together to describe what they had seen.
The first son said that the tree was ugly, bent and twisted.
The second son said that was not the case and that it was covered with green buds and full of promise.
The third son disagreed. He said it was laden with blossoms that smelled so sweet and looked so beautiful.
The last son disagreed with all of them. He said it was ripe and drooping with fruit, full of life and fulfillment.
The man explained to his sons that they were all right. They had each seen but only one season in the tree’s life. He told them that you cannot judge a tree or a person, by only one season and that the essence of who they are.
If you give up when it’s winter, you will miss the promise of your spring, the beauty of your summer and the fulfillment of your fall. Don’t let the struggles and pain of one season destroy the joy of all the rest.
Our seasons are narrow portrayals
This story about a man and his four sons is one that I know will stay with me as it helps to show even a stationary tree for its whole life has ups and downs. The seasons change and it experiences different feelings based on what season of its life it is in.
The seasons we experience are ones that are more than just the weather. We have moments in our lives that can sometimes feel great and pure while at other times feel the opposite.
We are all born with this knowledge that things can get better but things can also get worse.
Even if not controlled by the tree itself, the environment around it changes and it follows the same path.
Without control, it can feel like we have caused whatever stage of life we are in and this can make us feel responsible for our success and failures.
We must understand that while we are mobile and have the ability for change, oftentimes the change will meet us in the middle and can be expected. Unlike a tree, our seasons are unpredictable and this can be scary. Yet even if it does not follow a seasonal schedule, the season will change.
It’s not just hope and perseverance that lead us toward our goals and milestones, but the promise that we will never be stationary for a long period of time.
Truly knowing is not enough to presume
Along with the changes to the tree, each son also had a different experience going to the same tree in the same place.
The object of the story is the tree, but the sons each hold meaning in that they all observed something different.
With life being this way, we can understand that even though we may understand something to its fullest truly knowing the tree and what it is going through; that does not stay the same when we next come back and visit.
We put people that we meet into this one-dimensional visualization where every change to us is unexpected. An acquaintance suddenly getting married can surprise us, but why? Our depiction of individuals never accounted for their highs and lows.
From the opposite perspective, we make our lives out to be more complex than they may be. Others can see us as one-dimensional and expect us to remain the same.
We constantly feel and witness our own change, but we may be oblivious to our root values that keep us stationary.
Everyone is the tree in this story. Yet everyone is also the four sons coming to observe the tree. We can capture what we see in descriptive words that can apply at the time to ourselves and to others.
What we can’t always capture is the process of change, even if the seasons are bound to move on.