Volume 6 - Issue 05
MAY - 2008
JUST KEEP PLANTING
Paul Rokich is a local hero. When Paul was a boy growing up in Utah, he happened to live near an old copper smelter, and the sulfur dioxide that poured out of the refinery had made a desolate wasteland out of what used to be a beautiful forest.
When a young visitor one day looked at this wasteland and saw that there was nothing living there - no animals, trees, grass, bushes, birds...nothing but fourteen thousand acres of black and barren land that even smelled bad - well, he glanced at the whole stretch and said, "This place is crummy." Paul knocked him down. He felt insulted. But he looked around him and something happened inside him. He made a decision: Paul Rokich vowed that some day he would bring back the life to this land.
Many years later, Paul was in the area and he went to the smelter office. He asked if they had any plans to bring the trees back. The answer was "No." He asked if they would let him try to bring the trees back. Again, the answer was "No." They didn't want him on their land. He realized he needed to be more knowledgeable before anyone would listen to him, so he went to college to study botany.
So he tried to go on with his life. He got a job operating heavy equipment, got married, and had kids. But his dream would not die. He kept studying up on the subject, and thinking about it. And then, one night he got up and decided to do something. He did what he could with what he had. This was an important turning point. As Samuel Johnson wrote, "It is common to overlook what is nearby keeping the eye fixed on something remote. In the same manner, present opportunities are neglected and attainable good is slighted by minds busied in extensive ranges."
Paul stopped busying his mind in extensive ranges and looked at what opportunities for attainable good were right in front of him. Under the cover of darkness, he sneaked out into the wasteland with a backpack full of seedlings and started planting. For seven hours he planted seedlings.
He did it again a week later. And every week, he made his secret journey into the wasteland and planted trees, shrubs and grass. But most of it died.
For fifteen years he did this. When a whole valley of his fir seedlings burned to the ground because of a careless sheep-herder, Paul broke down and wept. Then he got up and kept planting.
Freezing winds and blistering heat, landslides, floods and fires destroyed his work, time and again. But he kept planting.
One night, he found that a highway crew had come and taken tons of dirt for a road grade, and all the plants he had painstakingly planted in that area were gone.
The old copper smelter eventually gave him permission, and later, as times were changing and there was political pressure to clean up the environment, the company actually hired Paul to do what he was already doing, and they provided him with machinery and crews to work with. Progress accelerated.
Now the place is fourteen thousand acres of trees, grass and bushes, rich with elk and eagles, and Paul Rokich has received almost every environmental award Utah has.
He says, "I thought that if I got this started, when I was dead and gone, people would come and see it. I never thought I'd live to see it myself!"
It took him until his hair turned white, but he managed to keep that impossible vow he made to himself as a child.
What was it you wanted to do that you thought was impossible? Paul's story sure gives a perspective on things, doesn't it?
The way you get something accomplished in this world is to just keep planting. Just keep working. Just keep plugging away at it one day at a time for a long time, no matter who criticizes you, no matter how long it takes, no matter how many times you fall.
Get back up again. And just keep planting.
Bhagavan Baba says, “The one with noble qualities of purity, patience and perseverance, is verily God.” Even sky is not the limit for a person who is diligent and determined, because he or she gains access to an infinite source of ideas and energy. Let us be persistent with our pure ideas and new vistas will open in our life conferring on us immense happiness.
Illustrations: Mr. Rahul Raja, SSSU
- Heart2Heart Team
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Vol 6 Issue 05 - MAY 2008
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