Apple picking is full of surprises. The backbreaking work was expected, but the life lessons I continue to learn are a welcome curiosity. 

1. Find beauty in the mundane.

Picking apples is monotonous. I pick thousands of the exact shade of red for nine hours, each and every day. The same thing can happen in your life. You wake up at 6:00AM everyday, you drag yourself to work and perform the same, mundane tasks as you did yesterday. Your life can quickly turn into a dreadful routine that feels inescapable.

But, here’s the silver lining – there is beauty in the mundane. You simply have to open your eyes, take a step back, do whatever it takes to wake yourself up from the routine. Be observant of the world around you, because even if you remain the same, the world is constantly changing.

Today, as I was hurrying to pick a tree and move on to the next, I caught a brief sight of something blue. In my world of red and green, blue was an unexpected sight. Resting amongst the apples was a picturesque bird’s nest, complete with broken, blue shells. Ever since stumbling upon the beauty of a bird’s nest, my senses have been keen to spot the next unexpected wonder mixed in with the mundane of the day. 

You’ll be surprised how quickly your outlook on life can change simply by searching for the inherent beauty in the world. Give it a try. 

2. Don’t look back.

In the race to pick enough apples, it’s easy to look back down the row you just finished and find one or two apples that you should have picked. It’s all too easy to turn around and reach for those two forgotten lovelies. But, you should’t look back in apple picking and you shouldn’t look back in life.

Looking back wastes precious time. In apple picking, the time it takes you to walk back to those two forgotten apples could have been used to pick ten more in the next tree. In life, looking back only causes you to doubt the decisions you have already made, decisions that cannot be unmade.

Wishing you would have gone to bed earlier, saying you should have worked out today, regretting the dessert you just devoured is pointless. Looking back will only lead to stress and worry. If there is something in your life that you want to change, than change it going forward. Make the decision to change and don’t look back. Life is short, live in the present.  

3. Everyone deserves a second chance.

Given enough time and sunshine, even the smallest, ugliest apples turn into the perfect pick. We give every row of apples a second chance. If an apple wasn’t ready the first time around, we wait until it has had enough time to ripen and return for a second pick. 

Given enough time and will, people can change too. If a person has made an effort to change for you, the least you can do is give them a second chance. 

4. Stop second guessing your decisions.

A good apple picker knows a ripe apple the instant it comes into sight. The surface is red throughout, its speckled with flecks of deep red and large enough to fit perfectly in the palm of your hand. Grab it. Plop it into your bag and move on. There is no time to waste. There are always a few apples in a tree that don’t quite make the cut, and you have to trust your instinct when you didn’t pick it the first time. 

Life is the same way, there will always be people and pressures trying to make you doubt your decisions. If you listened to everyone, if you tried to make them all happy, you would never make a single decision. Make a decision and trust yourself. The moment doubt creeps into your mind, it becomes an all-consuming negative drag on your decision making capability. Choosing to trust your decisions is a much simpler way to live your life. 

5. Set goals and work hard.

When it comes to picking enough apples in a day, it’s all about setting goals and working hard. Each bin needs to be filled in just over an hour to be on pace with contract. Such a lofty goal is hard to imagine reaching when you see a big, empty bin in front of you. So, we break it down into thirds and we time ourselves. We know that each third needs to be filled in twenty minutes and we celebrate when we succeed. Nothing feels better than setting a goal, pushing your body to its limit and succeeding. 

It’s the same way in life. I hope you have big goals, goals that cannot be reached without a great deal of effort. Don’t simplify your goals, but do break your goals down into attainable steps towards success. You will still work hard, you will still reach your end goal, but you will also reach mini-milestones throughout the process. These small successes will help you to stay focused and stay positive.


6 thoughts on “5 Life Lessons Learned from Apple Picking

  1. Well, I needed that shot of philosophy first thing this morning. Have had the flu for a week which means I didn’t go to the piano once and my exam is looming large. I was getting into the frame of mind of “what’s the point, who am I kidding? I’ll never recover this lost time, blah blah boohoohoo” and here you are with all the words I need to go forward with (no looking back, nosiree). Nobody works harder than you, Dana, and you were an inspiration while here and now all the way from NZ you continue to inspire me with your work ethic and dedication and insight. So you’ve lifted me up and put me in the right frame of mind to get back at it. Thank you, my dear!

    • Oh Nancy, I personally think you should start a blog of your own. Your words never fail to make me laugh and feel great! Thank you for the kind words. I do hope you start getting better soon. What level of the piano are you at now? Keep it up! 🙂

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