One of my favorite places is the produce corner of my local grocery store.

Somewhere between the mounds of red tomatoes, the yellow lemons, the apples in their rows, the cabbages still wet from the mist sprayers, the leathery onions and spicy garlic, I stop and stare, slowly spinning in circles. I have always liked fruits and vegetables, raw or cooked, mixed together in juices or eaten by themselves. This is my candy store. Maybe it’s the moisture in the air, or the smell of fresh food, but I feel healthy when I am walking through those aisles. And maybe a part of me has always longed to be a farmer, to till the soil and watch the work of my hands produce something I can touch and taste and see is good.

But I am not a farmer, so I can only imagine the satisfaction a farmer has, when at the end of a long summer of tending his crops, he sits on his tractor and looks down the long rows of his fields at the harvest sitting ripe on its stalk. I imagine it is a feeling of pride seeing the bounty of one’s hard work. I admire their ability to work for so many months, patiently planting seeds, tending them, picking out the weeds so the crop can reach its potential with the only the promise of some future, far-off reward to motivate them. The reward does come as fall approaches and the fields are full of harvest.

Many of us work all day for weeks on end and have nothing to show for our hard work. Not that we haven’t been doing anything, but our work doesn’t produce a tangible product we can look at and be proud of. Farmers have their fields, artists their paintings or sculptures, movie stars have a movie the whole world can see, fisherman have baskets of silvery catch. The guy at the office may not have anything he can hold and touch.

Deep down inside, most of us want to bear fruit. We want our lives to mean something and to have purpose. Yet, many of us, at times in our life, can look at what we have accomplished and feel disappointed or discouraged. Maybe we don’t think we have borne enough fruit. Maybe we have a lot of unpaid bills, broken relationships, cars that don’t start as reliably as we would like, no time or energy left at the end of the day to pursue the things we wish we could be doing instead and we are always looking for something to help us forget about the lacks in our life. Our harvest is meager.

That’s why we have to become farmers. Not farmers wearing overalls and holding pitchforks, but farmers of our lives. We need to plant seeds, tend them, and reap a harvest.

If we don’t plant, we won’t have a harvest to reap. It’s a principle that rules our lives. If we want to eat, we have to make money to buy food. Our effort is the seed. If we want to drive a car to work, we have to pay (the seed) a dealership to get a car (the harvest). If we want children, we have to plant a seed in a woman and wait our nine months. If we want kindness, we have to be kind to others. If we want corn, we have to put a seed in the ground.

The ground doesn’t grow its own corn. Cars aren’t given to us for free. If we don’t plant seeds, we are not going to reap any harvests. If we plant bad seeds, our harvest will be bad. If we plant laziness and selfishness, we aren’t going to reap financial benefits and happiness.

I know I want more fruit and vegetables in my life. I want the biggest, juiciest tomatoes and the sweetest strawberries, and the crunchiest carrots I can get. I better get planting.

© Seth Crossman