Pine Cones

We have a bombing range in our front yard. The bombers are two large pine trees, and the bombs are pine cones. Luckily, no one has yet been conked over the head by any coniferous ordnance that has dropped from the towering heights of these trees. But it’s only a matter of time.

Meanwhile, dozens of cones per week are shed, populating the grounds with ankle turners for those who perambulate in the dark. So once in awhile some poor schlub is tasked with the chore of raking up these invading cones.

It occurred to me one day, as I rested while leaning against the rake, that these damned trees must have already produced tens of thousands of pine cones over the course of their lives. And what do they have to show for it? Nothing. The hundreds of thousands of seeds of the tens of thousands of cones that have dropped from these evergreens have yet to produce a single new pine tree.

And that’s because schlemiels like me religiously rake the cones up, before the seeds get a chance to fall out. Then again, I must also give credit to the squirrels and birds and such, that harvest the pine nuts before I show up with my gardening tools.

But I’m not perfect, and neither are squirrels and birds. One of these days we’re gonna screw up. And then one of those pine nuts will get its chance. It will take root and sprout a brand new pine tree. And then, finally, it will be mission accomplished for our mammoth pine trees. They’ll have something to show for their efforts.

It only takes one success for a pine tree to complete its job at reproduction.

I think it’s the same with humans and their opinions. Opinions come from opining, so I think it’s safe to compare an opinion to a pine cone. Some humans try to be helpful, and are full of all kinds of opinions and advice. We are constantly bombarded, every single day, with messages of persuasion from each other. Sometimes it’s all we can do to rake through the muck of all this information, and uncover a grounded sense of reality.

We usually mean well with all our opinions. But so often they’re only half-regarded, if not ignored altogether. Rare is the occasion when something we say makes a real difference in someone else’s life.

But like the pine trees, it only takes once. If only one time in your life an opinion, or observation, or piece of advice helps change a life for the better for some ignominious, benighted person wallowing in the mire of a life run poorly, then you will have done your job. You will have fulfilled your mission at helping life to go on.

DISCLAIMER: If you’ve ever given bad advice, you may have to help more than one person, to countervail the harm you’ve inflicted on others. Past performance may not be a reliable indicator of future returns. Consult physician before using internally.

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