“The one who plants trees, knowing that he will never sit in their shade, has at least started to understand the meaning of life.” (Rabindranath Tagore)


One of the very first blogs I ever wrote was titled, “The true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” This quote was from a Canadian farmer named Nelson Henderson. Many years later his grandson, Jason Henderson, contacted me and thanked me for helping to make the quote famous on the internet. Jason contacted me again recently and shared with me that he suspects his grandfather may have paraphrased the quote from Rabindranath Tagore, an Indian poet who died in 1941. Jason and I agreed that giving proper credit is always important and so I’m doing that with this new post.

For those of you in the younger generation, who may not have experienced it before, this is what integrity looks like. Jason Henderson went out of his way to give credit where it was due and by doing so he made his own grandfather’s words even more valuable because he gave new meaning to the thoughts Nelson Henderson and Rabindranath Tagore were trying to express, so many years ago. Understanding the meaning of life is the whole point of living and helping others find this truth is the most important thing we can do each and every day. People with integrity take this truth to heart and spend every day living out this mission. They plant metaphorical trees everywhere by helping everyone and sharing the burdens of life.

Integrity, honor, courage and faith are the cornerstones of a life well-lived and men like Nelson Henderson and my grandfather, Guy McClintick, will always be remembered because they embodied all of these traits and left the whole world better than they found it. The trees they planted are still providing shade for all the generations to come. They found the meaning of life in every simple act they performed and, by doing so, gave us all a perfect example of how to find meaning and happiness in our own lives. We would be utterly foolish not to learn from their wisdom.

That’s the great thing about universal truth, it needs to be shared and repeated as often as possible. Attribution is important too but the message is crucial. Nelson Henderson may have read Tagore’s quote way back in the 1930’s and decided it was too important not to pass on to his own family. I’m sure he wasn’t trying to become famous but the lesson just made sense to him and he expressed it in his own way. If you study quotations, like I do, you will see many quotes that are strikingly similar from many different times and places. The wisdom of the ages gets passed down and around all the time and that’s a good thing. This blog exists for that very purpose and that’s why I use quotes for titles. Most of what I know now, at 65 years old, has come from listening to people who are smarter than I am and have more life experience. Now it’s my turn to share those thoughts with the next generation. This is how knowledge gets distributed over time.

The meaning of life is found in the shade of wisdom left for us by our forefathers. We honor their lives every time we share the truth with someone who hasn’t heard it yet. We must have courage to find that meaning because we always put ourselves in unknown situations while we look for the truth. We have faith in things we can’t see and the future we can’t know because without faith there is no meaning to life. I sincerely hope that some day my grandchildren will sit under those trees in Minnesota and read this blog on their holographic books. Then I will know that my life had all the meaning I could ever hope for and their lives will be just as good.

Thanks again Jason for the inspiration that helped me write this post.

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

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7 Responses to “The one who plants trees, knowing that he will never sit in their shade, has at least started to understand the meaning of life.” (Rabindranath Tagore)

  1. Dick Kuhn says:

    Guy,

    Great quote and great job on your blog. Hope all is well with you and all the family. I understand you may be celebrating your Mom’s birthday. It is a beautiful day for such a celebration. Also glad to hear you had 4 straight days off. Makes for a nice break. Keep thinking that I will stop by the store to see you, but haven’t been out that way for awhile. Happy Easter! Dick

    >

  2. Jason Henderson says:

    Happy Easter Guy,
    Thank you for your comments. I’m going to take liberty here of my only little mini-blog. The timing of your message was exactly when I needed it. I was starting Easter weekend missing my extended family, my kids and feeling the heavy weight of the complicated lives we live. I needed your reminder of the bigger picture. I shed a few tears and felt better about my world. Something we ALL need, is an occasional reminder of our worth, our gifts and how we can impact others with our thoughts and words. Everyone struggles at times. None of us know when and what our neighbour is carrying. Little things like a compliment, a note and a “Good Morning” can change lives. It’s a reminder that we are a community across borders and beliefs. Taking a moment to acknowledge another, is fertilizer on the seeds of their good intentions. It gives other people permission to spread their good will. Like the playground saying.. Tag ! You’re It !!

    • grhgraph says:

      I couldn’t have said it better. The blog traffic has really slowed down recently and I sometimes wonder if it’s worth my time to keep posting. Then I get a comment like your’s and I remember why I write. It’s exactly what our grandfathers were talking about. Planting trees or writing blogs is all about the future generations who will have something to remember us by and I think we owe it to our forefathers and our descendants to keep the faith and just keep trying. Glad to hear I helped you through a rough patch. Now I’m encouraged to keep writing. Thanks again.
      Guy

  3. Constance Larson says:

    Hello Guy,
    Your original blog with Nelson Henderson’s quote has always been a favorite of mine. Thank you for sharing it once again with what may have been it’s origin. I apologize for not responding often to your blogs but want you to know that they are always welcomed and certainly always read.
    Connie Larson

    • grhgraph says:

      It really helps to have had a grandfather as grand as mine. He was the role model every young boy should have and he will always be a source of great wisdom for me. The connection with Nelson Henderson is an amazing coincidence that just keeps reminding me what a small world we have and how much we need to help each other take care of it. We’re heading back to Portview in June with my new grandson. I want him to have the same experience as much as possible given the time difference. We’re going to walk in the woods and throw rocks in the lake. I hope I get a few more years to teach him the most important lessons about the meaning of life while we sit under those white pines my grandpa planted. All the best to you Connie. You might also enjoy the post titled “Country roads take me home.”

  4. Dee says:

    This is very important to realize!

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