Planting seeds for the future


Graduation season is upon us. Each year we receive invitations from the grandkids and great grandkids of our friends and neighbors. It’s an interesting crossroad for kids walking down the aisle. The road ahead into the future seems so bright and limitless. It’s a time when it seems anything is possible, and it is. If a high school graduate asked me for advice, I would tell them it’s the time to start planting seeds.

When I find it hard to explain something, I often turn to metaphors. I got the opportunity this past week when my great nephew Jordan spent the day with us. He was a little under the weather, and his mom decided to keep him out of school. Instead of her taking the day off, she asked if we would mind if he stayed with us. We never pass up an opportunity to spend time with “our younguns,” so we told her of course.

One of the tasks on our to-do list was to go over scholarship applications. Each year Jilda and I fund a scholarship that we give to a graduating senior from Dora High School. We’ve done it for years. We send our application to the counselors at the school and ask that they distribute them to any student who plans to continue their education.

This year we had a stack of applications. Based on the energy they put into answering the questions, we select one student and award the scholarship to them. This year, we’d narrowed our list to four. When Jordan sat down to sip juice and munch on string cheese, we asked him to help us decided on who got the scholarship. He’s 9 years old, but bright.

He carefully read over each application and weighed the merits of each. Every few minutes we’d exchange applications until we’d read all four. He thought for a long time and pointed to a couple of the applications we’d placed on the coffee table. “I think it’s between these two.” Both Jilda and I smiled because we’d arrived at the same decision. After re-reading the final two, we made our choice.

After finishing, Jordan and I walked out to the back deck, while Jilda put on her walking shoes. Jordan seemed lost in thought, but after a while, he said, “Why do you give those scholarships?” I told him it was to help one of the kids from our high school alma mater with college. That was the short answer, but Jordan rarely settles for the short answer. He continued to look at me.

I pointed to the apple tree in the garden and said, “We planted that apple tree almost 40 years ago. It grew from a sapling not much taller than you. We knew when we planted it that it would take several years before it produced the first apple.”

He kept looking at me quizzically. If you want good things to grow in your life, you must plant things. He’s helped us in the garden since he could walk, so he understands that concept of sowing and reaping.

Our scholarship is like planting seeds, I explained. Some kids may waste the money and drop out of school. But others will use it to buy books or pay for a class that can help them grow and do remarkable things with their lives.

I asked, “Do you understand?” He slowly nodded his head. I’m not sure if he understood, or was tired of talking and wanted to chase some butterflies in the garden.

At this stage of my life, I can’t think of a better investment in the future than planting seeds.

Rick Watson is a columnist and author. His latest book “Life Goes On” is available on You can contact him via email at