Frutus Vitae (Fruits of Life)
My trip to the farmers market got me thinking about the fruits of life and the fruits of labor. Actual fruit brought to our home through the labor of others. It’s a good exercise to try and think of all the people involved in getting those cherries to my kitchen. The beauty of going to the farmers market is that you are that much closer to the source. Someone from the farm, if not the farmer themselves, is there selling you their, sweet, tangy, delicious labor. When I have that contact it makes me even more appreciative and respectful of what I carry home with me in my canvas bag. As the maker of the cherry pie pictured in the still life this week I am aware that I am only one pair of hands in the journey of those cherries from tree to market to pie to mouth, yum!
Now that is the most literal demonstration of Frutus Vitae, but what of a second more ephemeral harvest? Recently my husband (operations director of The Bishop’s Ranch Retreat & Conference Center) was sharing a personal resolve he had made about a particularly demanding and stressful group that was set to return to The Bishop’s Ranch. He made a resolution to meet this group head on with chipperness. To jump in and help before they even noticed they needed help, to sooth and stroke and charm. He decided that the courtesy campaign would be worth every minute if it kept the squeaky wheels greased. It worked and by the end of the group’s stay they were happier and he was happier, everyone’s wheels rolled smoother, the fruits of his labor were sweet (maybe not as sweet as that cherry pie, but pretty sweet all the same). This got me thinking about a study I read in the Utne reader a couple of years ago (sorry I have lost track of the article so I can’t name names). The jist of the study was about the impact of positive and negative interactions. The study was looking at workplace interactions but I think it can be expanded to other relationships with partners and children, parents and friends etc. What the study showed was that our experience of negative interactions is five times more powerful than positive interactions. When you have a negative experience or interactions that it stays in your brain more powerfully than positive ones. That it takes FIVE (count um 5) positive experiences to outweigh ONE negative experience in a person’s mind. I don’t know about you, but I definitely remember harsh or frustrating or frightening experiences more vividly than the benign, easy, happy moments. So what that means is that we really have to pour on the sugar to counteract one sour situation! I tried it at home, and let me tell you it’s harder than it sounds, so before nagging about picking up the socks or making the bed, come up with five encouraging comments. This sociological study I suppose would be no surprise to my grandma who used to quip, “you catch more flies with honey” toward my cross-armed, stink-eyed teenage self. In any event the idea is you’ve got to give it to get it. There is labor involved, cultivation, fertilization, nurturing and nourishing before the sweet rewards of your labor can be harvested. But it’s worth it, just think of all the tasty pie you could make with life’s labor of love!
This weeks art was drawn on an ipad (great fun). If you would like an 8×10” archival print of this image I would be happy to mail it to you for $20, just email me with your mailing info. You can also go to http://lisathorpe.com/mandala.html to see and purchase images from past blog posts.