The Sage In Apartment 3B
A new neighbor moved into the apartment below us. His name is Richard, and he knows things.
He’s an older gentleman with a bit of a mystical smile. I always see him outside tending his garden.
One morning, I was coming back from the beach and he was pruning what I thought was small palm tree, mounted on a wooden base. I stopped and he looked up from his work.
Hey Richard, what type of palm is that?
He looked back at it with a glint of pride in his eye.
Ah, this isn’t a palm. It’s a fern. A staghorn fern. I’ve had her for, oh, about twenty seven years now. She’s real easy to take care of. Hardly needs any water or sun.
I was astonished.
Growing up, my mom couldn’t keep a potted plant alive for a week to save her life — let alone almost three decades.
That’s incredible. Maybe I’ll go to Home Depot and pick one up.
Oh, you won’t find one of these over at Home Depot. But hold on for a minute.
He went through his garage and out onto the patio, just out of sight. Thirty seconds later, he returned with an almost identical fern.
This is her sister. I’ve had her for almost as long. Hang her up on your patio and enjoy.
For a split second, I had the intense urge to decline his gift. Most of us know that it’s right to give to others — but we somehow don’t feel worthy of receiving. It’s as if receiving a gift, however small, obligates us or requires us to prove we are deserving.
This is a thought pattern I’m moving beyond.
I pushed the thought aside and gratefully accepted the plant. I could feel the weight of the soil shift in my hands, like the transfer of ownership from one person to another.
I’m going to keep her alive for another 30 years.
I know you will.
As I thanked him and turned to leave, he spoke again:
Remember to prune all the dead leaves as she grows. The longer the dead leaves remain attached, the less energy she has to make new ones.
Something clicked inside of me. In an instant, he crystalized a truth about life that I’d always known, but never examined. It was a transmission of distilled wisdom.
I think there’s a sage living in apartment 3B.
Daniel DiPiazza is the bestselling author of Rich20Something: Ditch Your Average Job, Start an Epic Business and Score the Life You Want.