I'm Kirk Wheeler. It's February 16th, 2021. I'm so glad you're here.
Every time we have a setback, we have an opportunity, and what that opportunity looks like in the future, largely depends on our mindset at the moment when we decide to move forward. Over the last few weeks we've been talking about failure as the seed. Inside this idea is something crucial. The kind of seed we plant is a choice we get to make.
"Ask the questions that have no answers. Invest in the millennium. Plant Sequoias." –Wendell Berry
Imagine yourself in a garden. It's a beautiful day. The sun is shining. Maybe there's a small stream. (Cue the sound of gentle stream.) That sounds right. Okay. You're digging holes to plant seeds that you're hoping to harvest at some point in the future. What are you going to grow? It's your garden, you get to choose, Right?
The seeds we choose to plant when failure happens, that's our choice. Just like the seeds we planted in the garden. We want strawberries, we plant strawberries. We like tomatoes, we plant tomatoes. But imagine if we were the ones to plant Sequoias.
I've been very lucky to go to Sequoia national park many times and every time I stand there and look up, it's awe inspiring. I can't believe that these are real living things. And when I first became a parent, I remember those first few days of continually being awestruck. I still am. And I remember the feeling of being part of this continuum, and I could see much further into the future, and look much further back into the past.
As humans, we have a hard time imagining very long time horizons. One of my favorite expressions of this kind of timescale is the Clock of the Long Now, it's being built right at this moment in a mountain in West Texas, imagine a cuckoo clock, and once a year, the cuckoo clock comes out. That's what the Clock of the Long Now is. And it's being engineered to last for at least 10,000 years.
A smaller example of this is something I saw on Twitter this week. I follow something called Things from the past, and there was a picture from 1888 of the Eiffel tower being built. And when I first saw it, I actually imagined the reverse, that it was being destroyed because it was only a partial Eiffel tower.
But as soon as you look at it, you realize this is it in its inception, right, in its becoming, and it kind of takes you a second to realize that everything start somewhere. And I'm continually reminded of this process and constantly humbled at the idea that I'm part of a much longer story.
So what's the takeaway? (Your audio time machine has arrived at the takeaway) .
When the humans you are raising fail, how can you help them learn to plant Sequoias? How can they continue to dream big in the face of defeat? How can you remind them that they're part of this much longer continuum that stretches out on these wide time horizons? How can you help them imagine a 10,000 year time span?
Here's a fun way to experiment, tell them about the 10,000 year clock and then ask them what kind of sound would your cuckoo clock make, if it could only go off once a year and we continue to go off for 10,000 years into the future?
I'm having a hard time deciding. Between Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story saying "To Infinity and Beyond, and the Brain from Pinky and The Brain saying "...same thing we do every night Pinky, try to take over the world."
I hope you find this helpful. Be sure to take care of yourself today. Drink some water. And remember there is no perpetual parenting playbook. We're all learning as we go with. And with curiosity as our map, and a willingness to plant Sequoias, we can be ready for anything.
So good luck. You've got this. I'm rooting for you.