You’re a gardener and you live in a small village. A group of foreigners stroll into town one day to trade and barter with the locals.
As you walk from tent to tent, examining the merchants’ offerings, a strange looking old man captures your attention. He’s sitting in front of a table with small pouches of what appears to be seeds.
You walk over and ask him what he’s got in the small pouches.
“These are magical seeds that will produce the toughest, strongest, most durable trees in the world. You can use these trees to build bridges and roads, heal physical ailments, make clothes, craft furniture, create cooking utensils, and construct musical instruments.”
Then he adds, “But these seeds require you to have meditation master’s level of concentration and the patience of a tortoise traveling thousands of miles.”
“Many have bought seeds from me, but few have seen them come to fruition. You must follow my instructions exactly as I have told you. Only then will you realize the benefits of this wonderful tree.”
Curious and full of ambition, you buy a pouch from the old man, and ask him for the instructions.
He pulls out a piece of paper and writes hastily the following words:
“Plant seeds. Water everyday. Have faith.”
Sounds simple enough, but with an intriguing final instruction. Have faith? What does that mean exactly? You notice a few other villagers have bought his seeds, too.
Eager to get started, you go to open land to plant the seeds. After all, if these trees are everything the man says they will be, they must be a tremendous asset to the entire village.
And so everyday, you tend to the seeds you planted. One week passes. Then another. Then a month passes, then another and another.
And soon, it is the end of the year. And nothing has happened.
But you keep in mind that final instruction. “Have faith.”
So you continue to water it on the days it doesn’t rain.
Weeks pass. Months pass. Still nothing. Year two is done.
The neighbors who also bought seeds come to you. “You’re still taking care of those seeds? The old man is tricking you. It’s all a con.”
You think about what they say, and consider it carefully.
What if he was just deceiving me? What if I’m just fooling myself and wasting my time?
But you remember this statement from him:
“But these seeds require you to have meditation master’s level of concentration and the patience of a tortoise traveling thousands of miles.”
So you decide to stick with it. And everyday, no matter what, you go to where you planted the seeds and continue to water it. Some people snicker, especially the people who have stopped tending to theirs. Others praise you for your commitment and dedication, but deep down they doubt anything will happen.
But regardless of what they think, good or bad, you will continue to water those seeds. Even if it’s until your very last breath.
Two years have passed. Still nothing.
Now three years have gone by, not a thing.
Year four comes and goes without a hint, but you still persist. You’ve made it a part of your daily practice and it’s a ritual now.
And in the fourth month of the fifth year something happens. A tiny sprout. A perceptible green leaf.
You wonder if your eyes are playing tricks on you, and if someone put it there to get you excited. You touch it and it feels so real. You are ecstatic but decide not to tell anyone…yet.
The next day, more leaves spring from the ground. And then you know that it’s really happening. And then you think, even if it takes another five or even ten years to watch these trees grow, it will have been worth my efforts.
But then something so unexpected happens. You just can’t believe it. One month after seeing the first, tiny green leaf, an abundance of stalks have grown to fifteen feet.
It’s miraculous. They are growing so fast. The entire village is now in disbelief.
Two months later they are at fifty feet.
Three months after the first leaf sprouted and now the trees are nearly one-hundred feet into the sky, towering over the small village.
Soon the trees reached their peak, and the villagers celebrated and honored the one gardener who persisted, demonstrated faith, and never, ever gave up.
Oh, and the name of that tree? It’s called Chinese Bamboo.