The Parable of the Apricot Tree
So if you read my last blog post, you will know that I am beginning to write a new post every week. And if you’ve done the math, you know I am already late. But all good things take time, right? That’s actually exactly what today’s post is all about. And nothing illustrates this better than a tiny little apricot tree in my backyard.
A couple of years ago I ordered three fruit trees from a highly recommended catalog. How strange to order trees in the mail! I pictured them coming to my door on some big flatbed truck full of plants. But it turned out to be nothing like that. There was a quick knock at the door one day, and as the UPS truck drove away, I opened my door and saw a rather small box. I opened it up to see three twigs. I can’t describe them any other way. They were twigs, with a few stringy roots coming out of the bottom. I was all ready to call this place to get my money back, and ask my gardening friends what on earth they were thinking with this company. But I decided to give these babies a try.
I planted them by the book. I did everything you’re supposed to do to make them happy. Weeks went by and the two peach trees were looking pretty good. But the tiniest twig of all, the apricot tree, just looked like a sad little twig in the mud. No leaves. No buds. Every now and then I carefully scratched it to see if there was any trace of green inside, and there was. But it looked very, very sad. Finally, a couple of different friends of mine, the ones with the very greenest thumbs, told me I might as well pull it out and put a new tree there before the season ended. I decided that I would do just that. I even went to a local nursery and bought a new, bigger apricot tree that already had lots of leaves and big long branches and I brought it home.
The new tree and I went out to the backyard to make the switch. I walked up to the little apricot twig and just when I was about to yank it out, I noticed something. A tiny little leaf, getting ready to jut out of the side! It was if the tree was trying to tell me in it’s tiny voice, “Have a little faith in me.”
My friends would have told me to pull it anyway, but I couldn’t do it. It was like the twig knew it was in danger and had gathered together every ounce of strength so that it could show me it wanted to live. So I just dug another hole and planted the new tree somewhere else. All of the trees lived through the summer. That to me was success.
The next spring, they all came back with something new. Sweet smelling blossoms! The crazy Utah weather wiped all the blossoms out within a week, but it was okay because the trees were still so small and wouldn’t have produced much fruit anyway. I was willing to wait. The trees were still very leafy and strong.
This year those sweet little blossoms came back. And the trees aren’t huge, but they seem big enough to hold a little bit of fruit. I was really excited about it until we got another freak snowstorm. The peach tree blossoms hadn’t opened yet, so they were fine. But the apricot trees were in full bloom, and the blossoms looked horrible after the storm. I wrote them off for this year.
Well yesterday I went out back to look at the trees, and I saw something amazing. A tiny hint of an apricot!! Guess which tree it was on. The tiniest tree, the one I almost ripped out. It was the first tree to produce a tiny little baby apricot. Once again I heard the voice of that tiny little tree, a little stronger this time: “Have a little faith in me.”
The more I think about it, I feel like I understand a lot about that tree. Right when it was still tender, it was put into a box and shipped to some random backyard, and it was thrown together with trees that were already more successful. What I would be temped to do in that situation is to try to be more like those other trees. Instead that tree just decided to do it’s thing, and hoped that I would just be patient and appreciate it for what it truly was. It didn’t try to be a peach tree, or a raspberry plant. It decided to be the very best apricot tree that it could be, no matter how long that might take. And it would be so apricoty that it would bear fruit, dang it! No snowstorm would stop it from being an apricot tree.
So what should you do if you are feeling like you are falling behind everyone else in being “successful” (see my last blog post) at whatever you are trying to do? Are you comparing yourself to others? Try to remember that you are not in a race. Your starting gun and your friends’ starting guns didn’t even go off at the same time. And you are not even on the same track. They weren’t born to produce apricots, but you were. Have a little faith in yourself.
My five-year-old daughter gets this so well that it is almost scary. One day she told me she wanted to wear her school t-shirt to school. “Oh, honey, everyone wears those on Fridays. Today is Monday,” I said. “I know,” she said, “that’s why I want to wear mine today.”
In the music world, it is easy to panic and feel like in order to be relevant you need to try to sound more like other more successful people. I think this might actually be the very worst idea anyone has ever dreamed up. Never have I failed more dismally than when I have tried this. What would be relevant about being like everyone else? Of course you can’t be oblivious to current styles. But it is absolutely necessary for survival to be unique. It turns out that the answer to many music career problems is the same as the answer to a big pile of other problems in life whether they are dating problems or superstar problems. The answer is: Be you. If you are an apricot tree, be so apricoty that someday you will hear people say, “It’s not fair. I wasn’t born as a scrawny twig of an apricot tree like she was.” People will want to know more about you and they might even try to imitate you. Or not. But it won’t matter because you are a very happy apricot tree and that’s that. You will solve problems in an apricot way and it will work.
I feel so much more power when I think this way. The moment you stop being a victim and begin to be excited about your unique story and how you will write it, your whole world changes. Challenges just become the exciting, suspenseful part of the story, and you decide for yourself what an apricot would do. So there you go. The parable of the apricot tree.
I know I keep telling you this but there are some fun things coming up in the Cherie Call music world. For starters, check out my calendar to see a light sprinkling of some really fun local shows. I’ll be adding more things soon. Certainly in addition to the Cherie Call shows that are there right now, I will most certainly be adding some things with The Lower Lights (their new album is going to be out so very soon!!!) and I might even sing a little ditty at some Sam Payne shows. As the weeks unfold there will be some super fun things happening online, too. Honestly, I can’t wait to share, and it is getting harder for me to keep it all to myself. The apricot is absolutely on it’s way.
Cherie Call, the stay-at-home songwriter
P.S. Next week’s blog post will include April’s new song! I think I will record it tonight, right here in my living room.