There once was a man who wanted to teach his four sons a valuable lesson: He wanted them to learn how to refrain from passing judgment too quickly. So with this lesson in mind, he sent each of them on a separate quest with the same goal. Each of his sons was to travel, in turn, a great distance to a far off pear tree he knew of. He helped each of them prepare for their journeys, and sent them on their way, one by one.
His oldest son was instructed to go first. He left after the first snow fall, and returned just before spring. The second son embarked on his journey shortly after the arrival of his brother,and returned early summer. The third son left promptly thereafter and was gone for the duration of the summer. The fourth son finally took his turn that autumn,and returned just before winter.
Once all four sons were gathered back home after their journey, their father called them together to describe what they had seen. The first son, who had traveled to the pear tree during the winter, said that the tree was ugly, twisted, and lifeless. The second son, who had been gone that spring, disagreed. He said that the tree was covered with green buds and was full of promise. The third son, who had seen the tree in the summer, said that it was laden with sweet smelling blossoms, and he described it as the most graceful thing he had ever seen. The fourth son disagreed yet again; he said that the tree was bountiful, drooping with fruit, and full of life and fulfillment.
After listening to his sons, the man explained that each of them was right, as they had seen only one season of the tree’s entire life. He asked his sons to imagine what the tree had looked like during the other seasons of its life. How it had looked when it was just a sapling, and what it might look like when it is twisted and old. The man told his sons that they cannot just a tree by only one season. That the essence of that tree, and all that it is has offered in its lifetime, can only be measured when all its seasons have passed.
And so it is with people, is it not? Quite often, we judge ourselves and others too quickly. We base our perceptions on just one season out of many. Too often, we conclude that “what we see (now) is what we (will always) get”. And this is not true. Like the pear tree, we humans have many seasons that we are continuously cycling through. We each experience the harsh resilience of winter, the promise of spring, the beauty of summer, and the fulfillment of autumn. Yet, if we are to judge ourselves too quickly and only acknowledge one season, we lose site of the true meaning and value behind the bigger picture.