Braille Monitor                  December 2021

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From Seed to Harvest

by Jerry Moreno

From the Editor: Jerry lives in Matthews, North Carolina, and he has been in the Federation since May 1994. Within a month of being introduced to the National Federation of the Blind, he found himself on a bus to visit the National Center for the Blind, now known as the Jernigan Institute. He remembers being very impressed by Joe Ruffalo and thought that he had never met anyone with more enthusiasm. One thing he learned on that bus was that if you didn’t want a job, you shouldn’t sit anywhere near Joe Ruffalo. At the time Jerry did not consider himself a blind person but only a person who might be losing his vision. He refused to use a cane, no matter the bruises that came from being unable to see what was ahead of him.

Jerry is now retired but worked as a social worker, and at one point in his career he was the manager of an office that found him supervising 170 people. He recalls walking up to the door, reaching for the door handle, and being asked by a bystander “Can you manage.” His response was, “I hope I can; I’m the director of this office.” Here is what Jerry has to say about nurturing the right kind of attitude that will lead to employment and the many benefits that come from it:

 WHY NOT WORK? This question is asked by many blind people. However, some blind folk ask ... Why work? They ask this question because of a lack of understanding. For if they only realized that in them is the potential to succeed, that the possibility already exists in them to succeed, they would not even think of failure.

Consider a tomato plant seed. It has all the potential to become a fruit-bearing plant given the proper set of circumstances. All that is necessary to become a tomato is already in the seed. Contemplate that for a while. Think of yourself as a seed. Are you planted in fertile ground or are you on the shelf?

A seed on a shelf is useless. It cannot produce anything. It will stay a seed for all its life. Until planted, it will never bear fruit.

However, with the proper conditions the planted seed will bear fruit. What are the proper conditions? Conditions such as prepared soil, sufficient water and nutrients, sunlight and heat, and a weed-free and obstacle-free environment are important in the growth process. These will enable the seed to grow and flourish.

What conditions do you need to produce fruit? You start by understanding that you are like a seed. All you need to be successful is already in you. You need to foster the proper conditions for growth.

Your ground needs to be broken up or plowed. This means that you must understand and believe in yourself that you can make it. If you do not, you can never rise above your own expectations. It would be like a seedling trying to pierce the hard soil or roots trying to pierce hard ground. Without the ground being broken, the seedling cannot pierce the top soil or the roots cannot absorb sufficient water or nutrients. In the example of the tomato plant, it would grow a little but never produce any fruit. Eventually it would shrivel up and die.

As for you, if you do not believe in yourself, you would exist but not prosper. You would never succeed at the game of life.

But, if you do believe in yourself, you start the process of growth. Once you break the shackle of ... I CANNOT ... you allow thoughts of success to enter your mind and begin to nourish your victory.

Like a seed would have trouble growing in hard or stubborn ground, a stubborn mind will do the same for success. Break up the hard ground and allow your victory to grow!

Once the ground is broken, then the seed can be planted. Sufficient water and nutrients are needed at this next level of growth. Water and nutrients represent education and training.

Without the sustaining force of water and nutrients, a fledgling seedling will dry up and die. The same will happen to you if you do not seek training or an education.

Roots search after water and nutrients, not the other way around. The roots actively seek these life-sustaining forces. You, too, must vigorously explore all possibilities of enhancing your job marketability. Adequate education and training will strengthen your abilities and allow you to grow into the employee that is inherent in you. After you receive sufficient education and training, you can enter the job market knowing you have something to offer, a fruit worthy of harvest!

Sunlight and heat contribute to the growth process of the plant. The lack of the sun's life-producing rays would leave a plant weak and listless. Eventually, it would wither and die.

Sunlight and heat symbolize networking and camaraderie. The sun's rays shed light on the plant thus enabling it to produce fruit. Networking's illuminating effect sheds light on things such as available services, training, and adaptive equipment. The fruit of employment is nurtured by these and many more.

Networking leads to job opportunities, the fruit of any prospective employee. However, to hear about these opportunities, you must be in contact with those who know. You must turn to people who already are working and ask them how they got their job. As a leaf gravitates toward the sun and turns toward it, you also must seek out those that are presently employed and learn from them.

Various plants have a diverse tolerance to cold. A prolonged cold spell will greatly affect the size and amount of any fruit. Without networking, you run the risk of no harvest, that is, no job! Throughout the United States, there are meetings of chapters of the National Federation of the Blind that you can attend. You can get on the Jobs-nfbnet.org mailing list. The only way you can find out about these things is by asking. Do not be left out in the cold; come to chapter meetings, conventions, and in so doing you will network!

The warmth of camaraderie will nurture you and give you companionship. Knowing that there are blind people who have already traveled the road you are about to take will alleviate any fears that you may have.

Associating with successfully employed people will have an advantageous effect on your attitude. It is always better to identify with positive people than negative. Do not be dragged down; be lifted up, and associate with those who can help you.

Weeds and obstacles can have an adverse effect on the growth of any plant. Weeds can choke a plant to death. There are those in society who have hindered the opportunities of blind people to succeed. Most are unintentional, due to a lack of education or information. Nonetheless the result is the same. The choking effect of misconception and ignorance need to be pulled up as a weed from the root and destroyed. As a plant needs a weed-free environment to be fruitful, when given a weed-free environment, the blind can be just as fruitful as their sighted peers.

Some obstacles to plant growth may have nothing to do with soil or climatic conditions. Improperly planted seeds may become fodder for the birds. Shallow-planted seeds will not survive. If you are not prepared for employment, or even greater, for life, you run the risk of being eaten up alive.

Most obstacles are either avoidable or removable. Knowledge and wisdom will help to expose and extract any obstacle in your way. To be fruitful, you must first learn what the obstacles are and then how to avoid or remove them.

How sad is it when you see someone who thinks they have Mount Everest in their way when it is only an anthill. The rich history of the National Federation of the Blind is replete with examples of dislodged Mount Everests. Floyd Matson's Walking Alone and Marching Together chronicles many a mountain turned anthill. This book is essential reading for all blind people.

Do not be weighted down with excess baggage. Life has enough of its own. Learn and be unshackled from unnecessary burdens. Glean from those who have walked in the past and join them.

A seed cannot be planted upside-down. The position it starts in does not have any effect on the harvest. When a farmer sows seed, he is not interested in how the seed lands on the ground but is concerned with how the ground is prepared and maintained. He knows that proper preparation and care will promote a plentiful harvest, a harvest worthy of his effort.

Like the seed, no matter what position you find yourself in, you have the potential to be fruitful. It might take some effort on your part, but it can be done. If you give up and stay at home, like a seed on a shelf, you would have the capacity to bear fruit but would not be fruitful.

After you plant a tomato seed, do you expect to grow a tomato overnight? No, everyone knows that some time has to elapse between the time you sow the seed and the time you enjoy the fruit of your labor.

Yet, some people who have planted themselves in the employment field lose hope when they do not see instantaneous results. Just like there is a growing season for tomato plants, there is a growing season for you. If you do not realize this, you can become discouraged and quit. This would be like the farmer planting a seed today and digging it up next week because he could not see any growth. Quitting interrupts the growth cycle and never leads to fruit. A farmer would never dig up a seed to see if it is growing! How foolish this sounds, for this would ruin any chance for a harvest. Knowing that he has done all that he could, he has enough confidence in the idea of seedtime and harvest to wait with anticipation. If you have been diligent and set the growth process into motion, you can wait patiently with expectation.

You should look over your circumstances as the farmer might look over his newly planted field. He would stand there and picture the prospective harvest. Picture yourself employed and successful. You must be just as pregnant with success as that field is with a crop.

The farmer is in control of everything except the weather conditions. Common sense dictates what and when to plant. You would not plant oranges in Alaska. Therefore, using common sense and good farming techniques, a farmer can logically expect a bounteous harvest. So, too, you can expect to produce fruit in the same way.

Why not work? The choice is yours. You decide if there will be an employment harvest or not. It starts with a decision. Make the right choice, and the growth process is set in motion. Make the wrong choice, and you will remain unemployed.

Remember, a seed on the shelf bears no fruit. By following the aforementioned principles, you can learn to overcome any and all obstacles. Plant yourself and produce a bountiful harvest!

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