Start appreciating those that provided fruit.
There was a young boy walking on the road. He looks off and sees a super old man planting a seed in the ground. The boy thought of the man’s foolishness in planting the tree. He understood that the man would die before the tree grows to bear fruit. He calls out to the man, noting his foolishness. The old man turns towards him. He says “my whole life I have been eating the fruit off trees that people had planted before me.”
At the end of each Good Life Podcast the host Jonathan Fields asks each guest, “what does it mean to live a good life?” Trevor Hall told the above story, as passed along from one of his teachers in India. At the close of telling the story, he continued to further shape his sense of a good life. He defined it as the point in life where you are able to step out of your own story. Freedom.
This story made the concept of service bigger than what I have shared in past posts. I do service because of the benefit that it gives me. The chance to step outside of my own life and get a different perspective. I rarely reflect on how much my life today is the result of others’ contributions to my life. Trevor Hall gave me that perspective.
So what does this look like in real life?
Late last month, my partner and I moved into a new home in the Oakland Hills. Every evening, interrupting the rhythm of making the home ours, we stop one another and say “what did we do?” This is our shorthand reminder, either of us says out loud, to remind us how grateful we are for our life.
Part of that gratitude is for my own hard work and grit. Another part is for the audacity to dream of a bold life.
In the packing process, I stumbled upon a vision exercise I did two years ago. Dozens of tiny post-it notes shoved into my office closet. The goal at the time was to be free with my dreams. I rapidly recorded ideas to ignore my conscious and limiting mind.
“House. Countless Windows. Nature. Patio. Private Office.”
It is all there, written on tiny bits of paper.
And now it is here.
And yet, that leaves out a large part of reality.
I thrive on connectedness. The belief that we are all fundamentally connected. In the words of the StrengthsFinder Assessment Tool, "Things happen for a reason. You are sure of it. You are sure of it because in your soul you know that we are all connected. Yes, we are individuals, responsible for our own judgments and in possession of our own free will, but nonetheless we are part of something larger."
As I stare out on my tree surrounded patio, I find joy in recognizing others' contributions to my life. It confirms how I am connected to others. That I am not alone. All the people who stepped outside of their own story in service of me. The people who planted the trees that gave me the fruit I eat.
Conversations with girlfriends who pushed me to rethink my relationship with money. To see abundance over scarcity.
The excellence of my last coach in holding me accountable to the type of relationship that I wanted. Who championed me to saying no to everyone else.
The amount of sacrifice my dad took by immigrating from Iran.
Melinda Gates famously said, “If you are successful, it is because somewhere, sometime, someone gave you a life or an idea that started you in the right direction. Remember also that you are indebted to life until you help some less fortunate person, just as you were helped.”
Spend 5 minutes today appreciating the people who planted the trees that sustain you.
Plant trees for others.