“I never planted fruit trees,” he started. “I never thought I would be anywhere long enough.”
It’s not too hard to understand. Nobody knows where they will be in even a handful of years. Justifying the work it would take to nurture a fruit tree only to leave it would be more than a little disheartening. All the pruning, watering and fertilizing it takes to nurture a peach out of a tree, only to leave before you see any benefit. Perhaps when you leave the tree will die or even worse, someone else will have your tree. It may be selfish, but you still won’t like it. Maybe next time you will take somebody’s tree.
And yet, there is something worse; no fruit. This is the predicament of a man who desired fruit but failed to plant a tree.
I have talked a lot about New Zealand, I know. But that experience was of the highest importance in my life and I pull lessons from it weekly to create action. When I stepped off the plane into the frosty July morning, I shuddered from cold as much as from fear. I slowly wandered across the airfield to the airport entrance contemplating my next move. Nobody for thousands of miles knew my face or personality. They did not know me and I did not know them. The first step off that plane was me alone, with nothing but a handful of seeds that I could sow however I chose.
I would plant the seeds of relationships; all the opportunities I would have started at that moment from a blank slate, tiny seeds on an empty field. It took weeks to see the sprouts, months more to see fruit and before long I stepped back on the plane, leaving year-old relationships that I am sure would have blossomed further. Many friends remain in contact to this day, but I know many more had yet to blossom.
I know that I am guilty of failing to plant fruit trees, literally and metaphorically. Perhaps I got luck in New Zealand, because I can think of countless other occasions where I have refused to invest in something because of a short time frame, never thinking I would benefit from the fruit. There are times when I stayed longer than I thought and regretted not sewing seeds sooner, but that is not the only thing to be regretted, it’s the alternative as well.
By sowing seeds, you give provide others the opportunity to reap the benefits. Imagine a world where everyone lived their lives to give, creating a set foundation for the next person who came along. That could mean something as simple as having a peach tree already planted in your backyard or something as complex as a culture that looks after those in need.
Everything starts by planting seeds, whether or not you will be around to taste the fruit.