The Chinese Bamboo

My eight-year-old twins just love watching “AGT” -Americas Got Talent and its numerous clones and relatives. They can watch it for ever- reruns after reruns. The surprise factor of what they will see next never ceases to amaze them.

“Life is a box of chocolates, you never know what you will get” as Forrest Gump said in the namesake movie. The twins are busy expressing to each other plans of what talent they have now, which will take them to the AGT stage.

Here is a fairy tale which unfolded on BGT (British Got Talent) 

This is Susan Boyles, singing with Elaine Paige (of Cat’s fame)

In the Far East, a farmer was in dire straits, having lost his crops repeatedly due to unseasonal weather. Tired and fatigued and with many mouths to feed at home, he is ready to give up and move to the city to earn a living.

Before a final decision  he decides to pay a visit to the wise old man who lives on the hill overlooking his village. When the farmer finishes telling the old man about his misfortune, the wise old man smiles and tells him to open his palms.

In the open palm, he places a pinch of tiny little seeds. He tells the farmer to plant them and water and care for them as if they were his own children. His parting words as the farmer turns the corner with the tiny seeds in his hand- “have patience- keep your faith”.

A year goes by after he plants the seeds and he sees nothing. He remembers the wise old man’s parting words and continues to water and tend the patch. In the second year, again, no growth above the soil. The third, the fourth, still nothing. In the fifth year, his patience is wearing thin and he is very dejected and sad. 

Then one morning in the fifth year, when he goes to look at the patch, he sees a miracle happening!

He see’s a tiny shoots pierce through the soil and start to grow towards the sky. It literally grows and grows and grows…at an astonishing rate!!! In a span of five weeks, the bamboo tree touches an amazing 90 feet!!

…and as he fell to his knees with joy and relief he understood the wise old mans parting words.

For non-believers, here is a time-lapse video of the bamboo tree growing..

All those years, when there was no outward growth did not mean that it was lying dormant and still. The bamboo was growing internally, beneath the ground, silently but steadily laying a strong root system to support its potential for outward growth in the fifth year and beyond.

The Chinese Bamboo Tree teaches us success lessons on patience, faith, perseverance, growth & development and most surprising of all… human potential!

Metaphorically, life’s journey, personal and professional, is filled with giant Chinese bamboo trees – dreams, visions, ideas and plans. Years of toil are sometimes required for their roots to grow, building strong character while overcoming adversity and challenge, and grow the strong internal foundation to handle success. Daily watering is needed, those small steps that contribute to their growth with every precious drop making a small difference  Over time, they become realized  and blossom in their full magnificence.

It is never easy. It’s frustrating, slow and unrewarding at times. We often tell each other and our children, remember to “Keep trying! and NEVER give up!” The change may be slow – even invisible at times – but suddenly, as in the case of the Chinese Bamboo Tree, we will surprise ourselves. Keep your faith in this important work.

Can we stay focused and continue to believe in what we are doing even when we don’t see immediate results?  Do we have the same kind of faith in your bamboo tree, whether it is to run a successful business, raise well-adjusted children, or what have you? Are you must have faith that if you keep making the calls, honing your craft, reading to your children, or in your dreams? Do we get so excited about the idea that’s been planted inside of us that we simply can’t wait for it to blossom? Do we get discouraged within a few weeks of initial planting and get discouraged and start having self-doubts? Do we sometimes, in our doubt, we dig up our seed and plant it elsewhere, in hopes that it will quickly rise in more fertile ground?

As Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote over 100 years ago:

“The heights by great men reached and kept
Were not attained by sudden flight,
But they, while their companions slept,
Toiled ever upward through the night.”

Susan Boyles, the bamboo which finally reached the skies in the 47th year of her life!








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