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On Tending To Pear Trees Of The Mind

Nov 22, 2023

Mundane things often make the best food for thought. Something as simple as carving up a pear can blast you back in time and then jolt you right back to the present with a newfound perspective.

Pear trees were abundant when I was a boy growing up in rural Mississippi.

You could literally walk outside, and there'd be pears lining the yards of many of the folks who lived along the bike route we'd take to get to town. And sometimes, we'd stop over to say hello while they'd let us fill up a trash bag with whatever we could carry. They weren't going to eat all those pears.

You'd think that picking up pears would be simple. But the thing is, picking pears requires some amount of skill. You see, pears don't ripen best hanging from a tree.

For pears to taste their best, they need to be plucked at just the right time. Otherwise, they'll either be under or overdeveloped.

Underdeveloped pears are hard and bitter. They lack nutrients, don't taste great, and usually give you a stomach ache.

Overdeveloped pears develop a gritty texture. They're often too soft and sweet to eat by themselves. If left unattended, those pears eventually fall off the tree and onto the ground.

Before long, critters start getting ahold of them.

When you see a bunch of sugar-soaked pears falling off the trees, squirrels, ants, and wasps won't be far behind. And if those critters don't get to them, or someone doesn't pick them up, those once perfectly good pears just rot on the ground under the hot summer sun.

The trick is to pluck them off the tree when they first start to get a little bit of blush on them. At that point, they're slightly under-ripe. A little soft on the outside, yet firm on the inside. And once picked, you put them in a paper bag and wait for the magic to happen.
In a few days, you'll be ready to sit down with a sharp knife to carve up those juicy pears with a tall glass of iced tea.

Creative works are a lot like pears.

If you try to force it out the door, it won't make an impact. If you wait too long, some critter will beat you to the punch, or it'll simply rot away in your mind. The trick is to give your work just enough effort to take shape. Then, you put it away so it can ripen on its own.

That's where the magic happens.

Within a few days, you can return to it to savor the fruits of your labor.

So, what are some tips to avoid letting your creative fruit rot?

  • Don't spend all your time and energy tending to other people's fruit because you won't have time to tend to your own. What I mean by that is to prioritize your own creative efforts. You'll be surprised how much you can get done in the background after you've prioritized your creativity.
  • Write down the things that stick out. Whether I'm listening to a podcast, watching a movie, or reading a book and something sticks out I write it down. I may not use it right away, but over time, I've got a curated list of ideas to get started from.
  • Give your efforts time to ripen. Make an outline of whatever you're creating, then a draft. After you've got a good draft, comb through it to fill in the details. Give it a day or two to develop some life and process your thoughts. Then, go back and finalize.
  • Don't spend too much time perfecting your work. You've got to pluck the pear from the branch at some point. Perfection is the enemy of done; no one can taste the fruit if it's still hanging on the tree.

Lastly, don't let your good fruit rot on the ground. Pick it, put it in a bag, and let it ripen. Maybe you're not ready to enjoy that idea just yet.
But what you can do is create an outline or summary to come back to later. Kinda like canning for when winter comes, and you're ready to start working on something new.

Remember that plenty of pear trees are growing in your mind. All you have to do is help develop the fruit.

More Insights.