Jackfruitlings and the “Next”

There I found myself, standing over the counter in the kitchen, doting on my jackfruitlings, resisting the urge to tear off their seed covers. It was a strange feeling. I felt pride that I, who had once killed an aloe vera plant, had been able to coax these two green seeds into sprouts. It had been 3 weeks since my mother-in-law presented me with the jackfruit. I had heard about this mythical fruit for as long as I had known my husband. My sister-in-law had finally found one. It had only taken 25 years. Of course, I wanted to see if I could plant them. Now, I beamed down on my strange green sprouts, wondering why I was so obsessed with the large wood-like structures surrounding them.

“Leave them alone!” I yelled internally. “Why can’t you just let things be? They are not ready yet!”

Maybe the seeds had come to represent my dreams and I was making excuses for the fact that I’m not further along in my work. The hulls come off of alfalfa seeds after about 4 days. These seeds took three weeks. Granted, jackfruit seeds are much larger than alfalfa seeds and I’m much larger than a jackfruit.  Maybe that’s why it’s taking so long for my shell to come off…

I had to walk away from the kitchen or I wouldn’t be able to stop myself. What if I ripped off the shells and broke my seedlings! I would be so sad. Just like all the other times I couldn’t wait for something to progress to the next stage and jumped the gun.

This constant desire to reach the next step confounds me. I would say that we coexist, but we don’t. The need to see things completed exists and I seem to follow after it. Ecclesiastes 7:8 says, “Better is the end of a thing than its beginning.” I was reminded of this verse the other day when I asked my son what his favorite part of the Bible is so far. He is 2 months away from turning 7. He recently finished the book of Genesis. His answer to my question was initially puzzling. He said, “I like the parts where people die.” I was taken off guard. “Why do you like the parts when people die?” He thought for a moment and said, “When somebody dies, a new character gets introduced and a new story starts.” Gracious me, I think the kid has it too. The end of a thing holds this endless fascination because something new will start. But what about where I am now? What about the present?

For all the things I have completed in my life, I’ve always had my eye on the next thing. When I think back to major milestones in my life, my move to California, my marriage, my Masters degree, my son’s birth, they were all overshadowed by the “next” they held. I moved to California and got to work on getting into a school. I got married and put my head back into my studies. I got my Bachelors and rushed the same summer into my Masters program. I finished my Masters and ran into a job. I had my son and have eagerly anticipated every coming stage. There is always more. There is always “next.”

I don’t actually even feel that accomplished when I reflect on my accomplishments. I think about what I’m working on now that isn’t finished. I think about what I should have been able to do already that I haven’t. In sum, my past completions only compel me to present work which holds the promise of future completions. All the while, I’m battered by a sea of endless mental to-do lists and no task gets left behind.

Number one on today’s to-do list: Liberate the seed.

They say you can’t help everyone, but you can help someone. I’m not sure it’s the seed I’m actually trying to help. Watching the plant emerge for the last 3 weeks has reminded me that this world isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I’ve left my egg and I’ve never stopped running. This life is short. Our time to do things on this earth is fleeting. This truth is what keeps me running.

Someday, I will close my eyes to this place. My story here will end and another will begin in Heaven. In the meantime, I run to the next thing while there is still time to run because when time runs out, there are no second chances.

In John 9:4, Jesus says, “We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work.” Whether the obsession with what comes next is a Godly one or not, I’m not sure. I know that night is coming and all I have is now. So, I will run.

Although I showed restraint in that moment, the next day, I gently peeled the hulls off the great, green shells. Maybe it was because I felt better, but they looked happier to me. Good night, strange burgeoning jackfruitlings. You are free. And I can’t wait to plant you…

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