Across the eastern fence of our property there is a greenbelt. The greenbelt features a creek, tons of maples, cedars and about a hundred blackberry bushes. Each September we get the privilege of harvesting blackberries for jams, crisps, smoothies, and even to be eaten by themselves…all without leaving our property.
Well, due to the long stretch of sunny weather that we enjoyed late this summer, our bushes were drooping under the weight of the sweet, dark berries unlike any year I’ve seen. But there’s one thing I haven’t mentioned yet….
Sure, there are lots of maples, cedars, and berry vines out back, but there are also lots of stinging nettle plants. Perhaps it’s just me, but it seems like the most desirable berries are always the ones that are either just out of reach or that are nestled safely among the benign-looking stinging nettles. The nettle leaves are easy to miss at first glance, and easy to forget about, until you experience an electric zing as they brush against your bare hand. A familiar welt reminds you for days that those berries weren’t free after all.
It seems this principle goes beyond berry harvesting. The most rewarding moments and experiences of life come at a high cost. Victories seem to be surrounded by failures. Sweet moments are couched among bitter ones. “Yes’s” are plentiful only among the “no’s.”
I suppose we could just go after the easily accessible berries, keeping our aim low, along with our standards. They may be a bit tart, but they’re safe, easy to access. But to settle for these berries is to wonder what might have been.
I say, live life with a bit of pluck, a bit of courage. You’re guaranteed to get stung along the way, but you won’t be left looking with a longing eye at those dark, plump berries as they tease you from their safe position among the nettles.