An old proverb says, "The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second-best time is now." It's true for improving a landscape, and it's true for improving our lives. Whether you want to read a novel or write one, take a walk or climb a mountain, the sooner you begin, the sooner you can become the person you want to be.
Lives don't change overnight any more than a tree grows from a sapling in a single day. But each day matters, and every step moves us closer to fulfilling our potential. As we set goals—even small goals, and then achieve them, we gain more control over our lives. Every time we do a little something to improve ourselves and to help others, we find greater peace. Over time, remarkable things can happen in our lives and in the lives of those around us.
But some of us may be so busy with daily life that the idea of even small steps of personal improvement can seem overwhelming—one more thing to do on an already daunting to-do list! Others of us, on the other hand, might feel bored, unappreciated, or underutilized and find it hard to muster the strength or motivation to begin.
Life is so much more than a list of tasks to complete—it's a process of becoming who we are meant to be. It has been said that we are human beings, not human doings. And yet, what we do ultimately determines who we are. So the question is not so much what we do but whether the things we do are getting us closer to who we want to become.
That means nurturing our family relationships. It means reaching out to others in love and respect. It means adhering to good values and principles and keeping a larger perspective than the here and now. And sometimes it means making mistakes, learning from them, and trying again. If we can do that, we can become kinder, more patient, more compassionate and caring.
It may be a gradual process for the seeds of improvement to become a towering tree, but no one despairs over how long it took the tree to grow—we simply marvel at the miracle of growth and becoming.
Lloyd D. Newell