POITOU, FRANCE – “My father told me to plant trees,” said a neighbor last night.
“It was right after I bought this place. Of course, I was young… I was busy… I didn’t have time to plant trees.
“Now, I tell my sons to plant trees while they’re still young. So they can enjoy them later.
“Funny, as you get older, and the less future you have available, the better you know it.”
What follows is a meditation on something we cannot know – tomorrow.
The future is a closed book, insofar as it is possible to know what will happen. But that doesn’t mean the future won’t happen.
And although it is terra incognita – a place you’ve never been before – that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pack your old familiar toothbrush and a warm sweater; it might be a lot like home.
Aesop wrote his fables. The French have added to them with a few of their own. Here’s one about the future:
Long ago, an old man decided to turn his farm over to his son and his wife.
“I have just one condition,” he told them. “You have to let me stay with you as long as I live.”
This was readily agreed. But the son’s wife and the old man didn’t get along. Finally, the wife persuaded her husband to throw him out. And so he did.
But taking pity on the old man, the younger man turned to his own son: “Go and get a horse blanket for your grandfather so he’ll at least have something warm to wrap around him.”
A few minutes later, the young boy came with a blanket, but his father could see that it was only half a blanket.
“Why did you cut the other half off?” he asked.
“Oh…” replied the boy. “That’s for you when you get old.”
All of a sudden, a pattern came into view. And the future didn’t seem so unknowable.
Like a tall tree, the future casts its shadow backward over the present.
If you think it will rain later in the day, you take an umbrella in the morning. If you think stocks will go up, you buy now. If you think you have only two years to live, there is no point buying a refrigerator with a 20-year guarantee.
Gift to the Future
The invention of money greatly increased man’s interest in tomorrow.