“Chinese bamboo is a unique plant.
From the moment it is planted, it must be watered every day.
During the first five years, you don’t see anything…
No growth happens.
Or so it seems…”
I began to tell this to my students,
And I could see that they were occupied with their own thoughts.
What’s so interesting about Chinese bamboo?
What does it have to do with their lives?!
I continued with my message, undaunted:
“It’s very tempting to stop putting effort into this ungrateful plant,
To think that something must be wrong with it,
To change directions, or give up, or invest in something else…
And then, something amazing happens…”
[Needless to say, at this point I already had the full attention of my students.]
“At some specific point – the plant begins to grow like crazy;
Within a few short weeks, the Chinese bamboo plant shoots up
To a height of 30-35 meters!!!”
It all happens quickly.
Within a few days, this plant grows taller than all of the other trees around it.
Yes, all of those who once looked down upon it from above,
Now – it stands proudly above them all.”
“What does this have to do with us?” one of the students challenged me.
Well, from my experience, I’ve learned that students with learning difficulties
Have a harder time being “polite” and thoughts that pop into their head
Are immediately “whipped out” and asked.
On the other hand, this was exactly the reason I told them about the Chinese bamboo plant.
I shot the question back in their direction.
“What can we learn from this plant?” I asked.
Two answers that they gave are connected to our lives as human beings.
It’s very tempting to think that what we have here is growth at record-breaking speed,
That takes just six weeks. We are liable to ignore the intensive investment of effort
That was made over the course of the previous years.
A deeper understanding recognizes the thorough, constant process,
The one that took place during those years prior to the growth,
Creating the plant’s hidden infrastructure.
This is what prepared the way and this is really what produced such a tall plant so quickly.
The same is true for us as human beings.
Personal growth is something that takes individual, daily, internal effort,
And sometimes it takes years.
The attempt to grow to great heights when a stable internal infrastructure is missing
Is doomed to fail.
Often this is the primary reason for collapse and failure.
Have you ever considered why it is that only 2% of all start-ups succeed?!
I would like to now introduce the second lesson that my students suggested.
It touches upon a much more internal point:
Reaching the stage when you are ready to put yourself out there,
stand out, grow, reach great heights,
To stand proudly like a “cedar of Lebanon”
Is definitely not easy.
Even in today’s world, where social media reigns,
The age of Facebook, Instagram and more,
Do we allow ourselves to really expose who we are and face the whole world?
Or do we go easy on ourselves and continue to grow “only on the inside”?
More training, another deep attempt to improve our consciousness, another course –
These are exactly the things that build our infrastructure.
But we don’t necessarily allow ourselves to outwardly express our potential
Or to show our value in front of others.
This is also something that we can learn from Chinese bamboo:
How to face the world and show what I have inside
Without hesitating and without worrying.
This too will become part of my growth process.
To conclude, allow me to quote a thought provoking statement made by Mary Kay Ash:
“Don’t limit yourself. Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do.”
As a footnote, I’d like to add
That the idea of growth, and of digesting the things we learn
Is one of the most important values to the Hebrew nation
And has been since its earliest days.
It begins with our forefather Abraham, who fed all of his guests
To teach them the meaning of time,
That all food takes a time to prepare and is ready to eat.
Even more than that, the historical claim that Darwin raised
Regarding the development of species
Is a principle that has been mentioned in the Hebrew tradition
Since the beginning of history, as Rabbi Kook explains.
When the fundamental ideas of the Hebrew tradition are learned in depth,
It is possible to see how they paved the way for the historical advancement of man and culture,
To bring humankind to the point that it can accept those who are different –
Something which has not existed since Cain murdered his brother, Abel.
We teach a special course that explains the significance of time – and of processes.