Roots of success

by Alan Guardado

When I was 6, my father told me that 10-foot-tall living, breathing creatures inhabited our garden.

This revelation left me terrified. I hid under my impenetrable fortress of blankets, imagining the ferocious beasts ready to pounce if I ventured outside.

The creatures I strongly feared, and who my father so greatly appreciated, were in reality the harmless trees and plants that lived in our garden. To him, the garden possessed a magical quality, similar to something from a fantasy.

Steering away from traditional hispanic folktales, my father told me of the great beasts and heroes that resided in a tiny village hidden in our front yard. Filling my mind with his own creation of characters provided me with an original and profound understanding of the morals and adages he so strongly passed on to me. Rather than growing up hearing stories about three pigs being tormented by a wolf or a tortoise outracing a much faster hare, I was told about the heroes who worked tirelessly to conquer their own creatures.

Now that I am older, my father continues to use the garden as a reference in his teaching. Using the fictitious world outside my home as an educational opportunity didn’t stop when I outgrew bedtime stories.

He has embedded his teachings into his work ever since I was old enough to join him in the laborious tasks. He loved gardening as long as I could remember.

Despite spending many early years having little success, he never succumbed to failure; his tenacity for mastering the process was something I always admired.

As an immigrant lacking English-fluency, my father wasn’t entirely able to help me academically. However, his passion for gardening and commitment to achieving his goals encapsulated everything he wanted me to learn. Watching his sweat glisten during the scorching heat while it dripped onto his already dirt-stained shirt signified his lesson on determination and tenacity. I knew that the long periods I spent doing physical work beside him were teaching me how to achieve consistent success. He couldn’t teach me Algebra, but I could learn from him the value of persistence through his garden.

Watching the results of our work flourish over time, I grew to admire his garden. What started out as work I begrudgingly performed, became useful skills I applied to my academics. Witnessing and aiding him in the countless hours he spent tending his creatures fostered my own work ethic. The tedious effort required to keep a leaning plant straight, perfectly watered and properly fertilized symbolized the time I would need to dedicate to mastering my own passions.

Unlike the vanquished antagonists he painted in my head, I was able to learn from my failures and avoid the many negative endeavors. While suffering in subjects like trigonometry and chemistry, I mirrored my father’s tenacious character and implemented the same disciplinary methods he set for himself. Feeling like the hero in one of his fabricated stories, the subjects I thought I failed represented the villain conqueror I had become.

Although my own personal creatures that are in constant need of tending can be far more frightening than the one’s in my father’s stories, I am confident I can overcome these fears as well. I put countless hours towards strengthening my own academic weaknesses while channeling my father’s self-discipline. The effort and meticulous work I will have to endure will, like my father’s, pave the way for my future success.

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