“Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” Warren Buffett
The internet brought me that quote last week, and then I couldn’t’ remember who had said it. So I searched for it and found that Warren Buffett is the source of the quote.
The internet said that it means “Rome was not built in a day,” and that it means it takes time to do big things.
Sometimes the internet is stupid.
I can’t help but think about a specific tree I love when I read that quote.
My house was built in 1950. When we first saw it, before we bought it, there was an enormous tree as old as the house itself. 50 year old tree, more than 100 feet tall.
It spread shade over our house, over the lawn and over our neighbors.
It was a glorious tree. I loved that tree.
It died. It caught a virus and had to be cut down. It was hollow in the middle. Look:
And now our backyard has no shade. Someone, once, a long time ago, planted a tree.
And it was glorious.
And then it died.
We had a mature tree in our front yard too. That tree died first. We got another tree, and it is growing. There is a draught in California, where we live, so last summer I scooped the water from my daughter’s bath and dumped it on the tree.
I hoped it was growing. I couldn’t tell because the leaves were all brown.
But look at it now:
It’s green! All green baby leaves in the place it’s supposed to have leaves.
t’s not the sort of tree that you can sit in the shade of.
Which is why that statement by Warren Buffett is more complicated that just, Rome wasn’t built in a day. There are steps and stages, and delayed gratification when it comes to planting trees.
And then there is the part where the tree is almost completely self-sustaining.
I am certain that the person who planted the original tree in my backyard is dead. He did not get to sit in the shade of that tree like I did.
I wonder if I will be around to sit in the shade of the tree that I did plant in the front yard.
I’m still glad I planted it. I can imagine the people who will sit in its shade. One day.