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All the Berries


by Ruth Minshull

“If you can find enough black raspberries, I’ll make a pudding,” my mother said.

That was all it took to send my brother and me hurrying off with our pails.  Since this was an annual activity, we knew the wild berry bushes could be found down near the marsh by the river.

My brother always let me go ahead of him.  I would work through a patch picking every berry I could see.  He would follow me, and pick about three times as many berries– from the same bushes.

This occurred repeatedly.  Finally I became curious:  where did he find so many berries on a bush I’d picked clean?  I watched him until I learned the secret:  as soon as he picked all the visible berries, he’d shift his position leaning left, then right, then down.  After moving around, looking at every angle, he’d bend down and search under the leaves.  At each new position, he’d find  another clump or two of fruit.

I tried this and it worked for me too.  The slight change in viewpoint revealed berries that had been hidden by leaves and overhanging branches.

This experience, I realized, could be a metaphor for life.  It’s easy to adopt a single viewpoint on a subject and stop seeking any others.  It’s much more challenging (and difficult) to shift around and study the same subject from many different angles.

How often we take on a controversial issue with an impassioned opinion–for or against.  This may be purely emotional.  Perhaps it’s a conditioned response–one that was taught to us and one that we accepted without examination.  These are the only berries on the bush for us.

To the degree that we refuse to shift our position, we limit the discovery of many other viewpoints.  This makes our overall outlook on life  a very berry-deficient pudding.

By the way, Mother’s pudding was always superb.  It made up for all the scratches on my hands and legs.

The “pudding” I’ve relished from examining many viewpoints on many subjects (religion, politics, art, styles, philosophy and the best barbecue sauce) has saved needless controversies and enriched many relationships.

I’d say that looking for all the berries is definitely worthwhile..

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©2010 by Ruth Minshull

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