In an initiative led by our Broker of Record Steve Foti, our office celebrates earth day annually by giving away trees to our clients, or anyone willing to plant them. This year, my personal allotment included a small bundle of American Elm seedlings. Out of curiosity, I Googled the American Elm to glean a rough idea as to how long I would need to wait before I might enjoy the fruit of my labour. Correlating the maturation cycle of the American Elm with my birth certificate did little for my motivation. However, having often cited the tree planting metaphor for life: the best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago, the second-best time is today, I recognized my hypocrisy and planted the trees.

Spring tree planting has long been a part of my annual routine, (largely because my tree tending has not been as diligent as my tree planting.) But an honest assessment of my tree planting habits over the years would indicate that I planted a lot more of them when I was younger. Maybe it was because I had more room to plant them. Maybe it was because I was stronger, and my back was more up to the task. But maybe there were selfish motives at work. When I was younger, I had a reasonable expectation that I might see a tree mature. Today, I am faced with the realistic prospect that the trees I am planting are not for me. It is always easier to be excited about a task when you know you will enjoy the outcome of your efforts. This is the only reason I like to cook!

As it sometimes happens, I was reminded of my shortcomings while watching TV later that evening when in an episode of After Life, British actress Penelope Wilton paraphrased a Greek proverb: A society grows great when old men plant trees, the shade of which they will never sit in. (Somehow, simple truths seem more elegant when spoken with a British accent!) She follows it up with: good people do things for other people. Thats it. The end.

Time will tell if our society will grow great, but these last couple of months would give even the hardest heart, reason for optimism. The selflessness evident in all walks of life, but most particularly amongst front line medical workers and staff in our seniors facilities has been simply humbling. We may like to say we are all in this together, but it is not lost on me that I am planting trees while others are saving lives while risking their own. Thank yous are simply insufficient, but nonetheless due. Thank you.


Thanks for reading,

Jeff Neumann