We knew that we’d only get a few days with Cara and Greg because of their schedules, so we decided to take advantage of our time in Ontario to see some other family and to add to our Canada 150 adventure. I’ve always wanted to skate on the Rideau Canal, in Ottawa, so Jim and I decided that this would be the year!
We glued a few days on to the front of our trip and thoroughly enjoyed touring Canada’s capital city with our excellent tour guide, my childhood friend, Louanne. We loved it! Alas, all her planning, and even her special parliamentary pass, could not convince the weather to cooperate for skating. The unseasonably warm weather caused the canal to be closed about 12 hours before we arrived! It did not reopen for the duration of our visit.
When our days in Ottawa ended, we headed to Niagara to visit with family there. One morning we were out for our walk which took us past several orchards where fruit is grown in the summer. I was struck with the way the trees were growing in the orchard; one long row of mature trees, flanked on either side by much younger, immature trees. Having grown up in farm land this was not new to me, but for some reason seeing the trees this way reminded me of the importance of balance in life.
Fruit trees need several years to grow before they are ready to produce fruit. Once fully mature, their fruit bearing years are limited. If a farmer over does it and plants her whole orchard at the same time, she must wait until all the trees have matured before she enjoys the first harvest. Then, although the harvest will be plentiful for a number of years, eventually all the trees will stop producing. It will take years more to remove the trees, replant and wait for the next cycle.
By alternating rows of fully mature trees with new trees, the farmer has the benefit of a plentiful crop year after year. By reigning in her enthusiasm to get the whole orchard planted at once, she strikes a balance that allows her family to be supported each year.
The land is often a great teacher and this is no exception. In our lives when we over use any positive attribute of ours (planting the whole orchard), we can create the unintended consequence of missing out on something else that might serve us well (the little trees starting to produce when the other ones stop).
For instance, if we happen to have the quality of great organization, and if we go overboard with it (plant the whole orchard) we may not leave any room between the rows of our neat little life to fit in some unexpected and unplanned adventures.
On the other hand, if we spend all our time jumping from one adventure to another without any planning, we may find ourselves at a place in our life where we are wondering how we got there and wishing we had done a bit more planning.
With our trip to Ottawa, we had absolutely done our planning. We knew we had two full days and one evening for sightseeing, and we knew that skating was a priority. When our skating plan was foiled we were so lucky to be able to notice that we still had the framework for the same two days and one evening and we could fill the frame with whatever we chose. Our tour of the parliament buildings, sitting in the gallery of the House of Commons, walking the grounds of Rideau Hall, watching children race down the chutes in Gatineau, Quebec, visiting museums, including Louanne’s mom in our adventure, all created a picture we may never have created had we been so tied up in our disappointment about the canal.
This week think of a quality you have that you have really polished to a shine (enthusiasm, responsibility, creativity, integrity, self-control, spontaneity, organization …). Now think of an opposing quality that you do not drag out of the closet nearly enough.
Your inquiry this week is, “What am I missing out on when I chose to only exercise this quality?” Give yourself permission to put 5% more of the underused quality in your life.
PS. The surprise party was FANTASTIC! A complete win! No skate on any canal would have trumped it!
I provide coaching, group coaching, workshop creation and facilitation. Contact me for all of your or your organization’s coaching needs.