This was sent to me as a New Year's gift. "A seed is a very small thing." I have no idea who wrote it but it rings true.
A seed is a very small thing.
You plant it, and in that secret place under the earth, if feeds from the soil, it breaks, and then a shoot comes up from the ground.
This small shoot seeks the light as it grows, and in time, it turns into a large tree. If you had not been told, you would not believe this tree came from such a small thing that once was hidden in the depths.
We cannot see what happens under the soil, because it is hidden from our eyes. Only the seed is present when the change happens. But eventually we see a tree, which cannot be ignored.
We do not consider the strength that resides within the seed because it is such a small thing. But we cannot ignore the tree.
This is an illustration of a certain belief that we fall into very easily, because it makes sense when we first think about it. It is the idea that our private lives should not matter to anyone but ourselves.
We look at our private lives as hidden from view, and we think they add no meaning whatsoever to the lives we live in public.
We say things like "whatever a man does in his private life is nobody's business."
Even more so, whatever a man thinks in his own head, in the deepest recesses of his mind, has little or no influence on the way that he behaves in public.
The truth is that those things which we do in private, even our thought life, matter more than anything else we do in life.
Because our private thoughts are like seeds.
They are planted in our heads. During that time, no one but we are able to see what happens in that secret place of our minds. But whether it is a good or a bad seed, it will seek nourishment and grow. Eventually a shoot will show up and become a plant. And this plant, if it continues to be watered and tended, will grow into a tree that cannot be ignored.
Still, we think that what we do in secret is not important because no one else is affected.
This is a great lie.
Consider this for a moment.
When you are in public, you try to abide by the regular standards of conduct generally prescribed by society. But when you are alone, you tend to loosen those standards because nobody is watching.
In fact, we see examples all the time of people who seem on the outside appear to lead exemplary lives, while their private lives are in shambles.
But their private lives eventually become everybody's business, because the person who you really are inside is that person who you are in your alone, secret moments.
These are the moments when you are free to be yourself. It is who you really are because you are not afraid of being judged when you are alone.
If during those alone times you cultivate seeds of disorder, those seeds will eventually sprout, and they will overflow into your public life.
It is in our most secret moments that we cultivate the real person whom we eventually become in public.
Those secret thoughts and behaviors are the seeds, which eventually grow roots and are the basis of how we eventually operate in the world outside
-- and how we operate in the world outside will inevitably affect those around us.
So we get back to this point: that which you have cultivated in secret does affect others, even though at the moment you may not think it does.
It may not seem like it does while you are feeding those character traits in private, but it does eventually when you step outside into the light and operate in accordance with habits you have cultivated in private -- in other words, when the shoot eventually breaks through the ground, because those secret habits that have become entrenched eventually give way to public character.
Thankfully, the same principle applies for cultivating seeds of good, of right thinking, of caring.
Thus, the solution is not to eliminate privacy, but rather to choose to habitually fill our minds with seeds that are noble, pure, loving, and admirable, and that which grows will be good for those whom we'll inevitably influence.
For in the end, we really have no choice but to influence others. Our life influences others simply by default. So the question is not whether or not we will influence others, but rather whether that influence will be positive or negative.
So consider the seed.
How small it is. You plant it. And in that secret place of darkness, it takes root and feeds, and eventually a shoot comes up from the ground and seeks the light as it grows and becomes a large tree, which you would not believe sprung from such a small thing that was once hidden from sight.
May we resolve in this New Year to begin cultivating such seeds.
In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson:
Watch your thoughts. They become words.
Watch your words. They become deeds.
Watch your deeds. They become habits.
Watch your habits. They become character.
Character is everything.