Your descendants shall gather your fruits. – Virgil
What does that mean?
also translated as “your grandchildren shall gather your fruits,” it is part of a discussion of the times of harvesting, and of the planting of fruit trees (pears, in this case).
Fruit trees take a long time to grow and then mature to the point of making useful fruit. That means you have to plan in advance, by a generation or two, if you want a fruit tree.
This quote was to remind someone to plant the seeds, that the fruit trees might begin growing, and eventually, in the time of his grandchildren, gather the fruit of his planting.
In short, the quote is about long range planning, and that some things will take more than your lifetime to achieve.
Why is planning for your descendants important?
There are things which are easy to plan, and things which are more difficult. Today in many modern countries, moving from city to city or even country to country, is not uncommon. Planting trees for your children or grandchildren might end up being for the descendants of whoever buys the house when you move out.
Saving money or making other long term investments for them can also be difficult if you are in a tough financial situation. And even when we are not, we don’t always remember to do so until it is too late for that generation. But we can try, even if it never amounts to all that much. But we can leave them more than money or trees.
We can leave them our good name. We can teach them good character, good manners and proper behavior, for money is not everything. We do that by being of good character ourselves. By learning and using our best manners at all times. By behaving ourselves in public and in private.
As we live the example, we teach them. As they imitate us, they learn. Together, with some forethought and effort, we can become leaders for our children and for their children. Perhaps even for the neighborhood children and the children at our descendants school. The world is full of bad examples, but we can be a good example.
Where can I apply this in my life?
For those who do not yet have children, they have the most options as they have the most time for their fruit trees to grow and bear fruit or their money to accumulate and bear interest. They can also start on becoming the example they wish their descendants to emulate.
They can start building the good name their descendants will inherit. As mentioned above, this includes paying attention to, and developing, their character as well as their manners and behavior. What that means will vary from person to person and culture to culture, but it should still be done.
For those who already have children, it may be too late for them, but you can still work on building a future for their children. Again, whether it’s fruit trees, money, character, manners or behavior, starting now is better than waiting another year, right? And having even a small something for them is better than nothing.
For those without descendants, there is always the option of helping those without parents or grandparents, the needy or the neglected. There are plenty of those in the world, and if you don’t have kids, nieces, nephews or other relatives, that might be someone for whom you could provide some much needed fruit.
However narrowly we define our family, there is always something we can do to help our descendants. Whether it’s helping our own flesh and blood, or helping our friends, our community or our planet, we can always take a small amount of time to plant a fruit tree from which the next generation can harvest.
The only question is what will we actually do? Take a moment and consider what your character, your manners and your behavior are. Are they so great that you can do nothing to improve them, that your descendants could not be more impressed or honored by what your name means to the community? If not, what might you do to make it so?
What kind of ‘fruit trees’ can you plant for them? What money or family heirlooms can you safeguard for them? Even those things which have little monetary value, but have a strong family bond could be quite a pleasant fruit for them to harvest in the years to come.
Life can be about so many things, and for each of us it is different. I hope this quote has given you some ideas about what else you could do with your life, and how impactful you could be, if you choose to do so. Imagine a world where people cared more about the next generation than they do themselves.
Is that a world in which you wish your descendants to live? It can only happen if you start today, and plant the seed, that they may harvest from it in the years to come.