On a recent trip to my garden with my husband I accidently plucked three green tomatoes which were very far from ripe. A bit bummed by it my husband suggested I put the tomatoes on my sticks which stand as a structure for my Sicilian (cucuzza) squash. He said they may ripen in the sun even though plucked from the vine, it’s source of life. After a week or so, I discovered one very red ripe tomato and another on its way. The third is still fighting to ripen. I viewed the progress of these tomatoes as not only a source of nourishment. To me they symbolized endurance and overcoming challenges. This brings me to a an article written by Sal Giarratani from the Boston Post-Gazette. His view on life, challenges and tomatoes is something I want to share with you all.
“Challenges Bring Progress”
by Sal Giarratani
I’ve seen the above on billboards all over the place advertising the Prudential Insurance Company. Recently, while over at the East Boston Community Gardens, I looked up to the highway separating me from the airport on the other side. Challenges bring progress? Such a simple statement of fact, yet quite profound, isn’t it? The gardeners in their tiny urban garden were tending to their crops. I was talking with a friend of mine by her patch of soil. She was watering her plants and plucking off a tomato here, a cucumber there and a little Romaine lettuce in between. It had all the makings for a nice siding of salad. Everything produced right there in the neighborhood’s front yard. It was grown with love which meant you really needed to wash it before eating, otherwise that little extra fiber you’re chewing might be a bug or two. It was a nice evening with the heat wave departed, and the two of us were talking about personal challenges.
She is 30-something and waiting for the career she wants to begin. Right now, she’s working for a paycheck wishing to be in another time in the job she dreams of starting. Me? I’m getting ready to retire. Working for my paycheck, too. I await my retirement date and the hopes of getting another job to ease my financial burden of a pension. Right now, the two of us are like lots of other people out there facing daily challenges with daily dreams pushing us onward. She’s about to get on her train of life. I’m approaching the last stop in a long career. Progress, that’s another thing. I used to think it was just moving forward. However, moving forward to what?
Too often our lives feel like two steps forward and one step back. Things that grow in gardens don’t have any problems or challenges. They blindly progress from planting season to harvest. These things have no joy, sorrow, happiness or lost dreams. They await the daily sun and its nourishment and that of its gardener too. I wake up every morning and plan my day. I do the best I can. I get through it. I thank God for this day of mine. However, if there was any progress made in my life’s journey is never clear to me or any of us. Sometimes the best challenge is to get down to the 303 Cafe in East Boston for my vanilla latte made there as they say with love. Every day is progress. Every day is a new chance to progress forward. I hope my friend finds that job she searches for, and I hope I get to retire and not live off food stamps. However, even more so, I hope neither of us just works to get the eight hours a day over with because that doesn’t sound like a progress strategy to me. Prudential is into many things but usually I think life insurance. Progress is in a funny way a form of life insurance. Something to make our life go by with ease.
Picking tomatoes is a lot easier than picking the right road to our futures. Bottom line, we make a little progress every day even if we don’t recognize that fact. Whether, we are a greyhound dog or a snail, eventually we do get from point A to point B. If we didn’t feel challenged in our lives, now that would not be progress. Once they throw dirt on you, the only progress made is that of a plant inside a community garden where we race against the crawling bugs around us. “Challenges bring progress” are three words that either go unseen by us or become words to grow by. Take door number two on this one.