The fruits of our labours

Note: I’ve ordered myself a new Kindle Paperwhite 3G to get back into my Daily Reading habit. Meanwhile, I forced myself to use the Kindle app on my iPad Mini to do my reading today, albeit it later than usual and over a cup of coffee in Wetherspoons.

Image by Tiago Faifa

In Book 9 of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations he talks about how we ‘bear fruit’, which reminds me of Galatians 5:22-23:

10. Everything bears fruit; man, God, the whole universe, each in its proper season. No matter that the phrase is restricted in common use to vines and such like. Reason, too, yields fruit, both for itself and for the world; since from it comes a harvest of other good things, themselves all bearing the stamp of reason.

In his Collected Maxims and Other Reflections of François La Rochefoucauld (maxim 138, removed after the first edition of his works) also talks about us ‘bearing fruit’:

Every kind of human talent, like every kind of tree, has its own unique characteristics and bears its own unique fruits.

The useful thing about the ‘fruit’ metaphor is that it not only enjoins us to have practical utility in the world, but helps us understand that we all have different ways of flourishing. 

Seneca, in On The Shortness of Life explains that we’re not all the same in terms of our tempraments and talents:

You must consider whether your nature is more suited to practical activity or to quiet study and reflection, and incline in the direction your natural faculty and disposition take you. Isocrates forcibly pulled Ephorus away from the forum, thinking he would be better employed in writing history. Inborn dispositions do not respond well to compulsion, and we labour in vain against nature’s opposition.

I certainly didn’t believe in people having a genetic disposition towards certain activities and ways of being until my wife and I had children. While we can shape them to some extent, I’d say that more than 50% of who (and how) our children are comes from something seemingly innate.

Applied to my own life, while I enjoy teaching, running workshops, and consulting with clients, what I really enjoy doing is reading and writing. It’s all a balance, but I’m happy that these days I do occasionally get paid for my writing.

Image by Tiago Faifa