Man Is Like a Fruit Tree 人像一棵果树
Once, while taking my boat down the inland waterway to Florida, I decided to tie up at Georgetown, South Carolina, for the night and visit with an old friend. As we approached the Esso dock, I saw him through my binoculars standing there awaiting us. Tall and straight as an arrow he stood, facing a cold, penetrating wind - truly a picture of a sturdy man, even though in his eighties. Yes, the man was our elder statesman, Bernard Baruch.
He loaded us into his station wagon and we were off to his famous Hobcaw Barony for dinner. We sat and talked in the great living room where many notables and statesmen, including Roosevelt and Churchill, have sat and taken their cues. In his eighty-second year, still a human dynamo, Mr. Baruch talked not of the past but of present problems and the future, deploring our ignorance of history, economics and psychology. His only reference to the past was to tell me, with the wonderful sparkle in his eyes, that he was only able to get eight quail out of the ten shots the day before. What is the secret of this great man's value to the world? The answer is his insatiable desire to keep being productive.
Another friend of mine, the head of one of our largest corporations, a great steel company, is approaching his middle seventies, and he is still a great leader. He, too, never talks of the past. Instead, he tackles the problems of each day in his stride, brims with plans for the future and, incidentally, shoots in the low seventies on any golf course. He is a happy man because he is productive.
Two of the hardest things to accomplish in this world are to acquire wealth by honest effort and, having gained it, to learn how to use it properly. Recently, I walked into the locker room of a rather well-known golf club after finishing a round. It was in the late afternoon and most of the members had left for their homes. But a half dozen or so men past middle age were still seated at tables, talking aimlessly and drinking more than was good for them. These same men can be found there day after day, strangely enough, each one of these men had been a man of affairs and wealth, successful in business and respected in the community. If material prosperity were the chief requisites for happiness, then each one should have been happy. Yet, it seemed to me, something very important was missing, else there would not have been the constant effort to escape the realities of life through Scotch and soda. They knew, each one of them, that their productivity had ceased. When a fruit tree ceases to bear its fruit, it is dying. And it is even so with man.
What is the answer to a long and happy existence in this world of ours? I think I found it long ago in a passage from the book of Genesis which caught my eyes while I was thumbing through my Bible. The words were few but they became indelibly impressed on my mind: "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat thy bread."
To me that has been a challenge from my earliest recollections. In fact, the battle of life, of existence, is a challenge to everyone. The immortal words of St. Paul, too, have been and always will be a great inspiration to me. At the end of the road I want to be able to feel that I have fought a good fight - have finished the course - I have kept the faith.
by Elmer H. Bobst