Last summer I had a film team from South America come to shoot a documentary about my life for TV in Latin America. They offered to pay me $5,000 to spend a week with me. I explained that I don’t accept any payments from media but that they can donate $5,000 to a nonprofit to do good work with. I chose the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation and together we’d plant 100 fruit trees.
The team came and went, and it was a long week of work. To be honest, I didn’t really want to do the documentary, but I knew that my time was worth it for the good that could be done with those funds. The documentary has been released on inti TV.
In March, The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation came to Orlando and we got to work. We planted 100 fruit trees in total. We created a fifty-tree orchard at IPC Church, planted fifteen Community Fruit Trees at Audubon Park Church along the sidewalks for the whole community to access, planted ten at the Fleet Farming plot, five with United Against Poverty and gave twenty to participants at the events to bring home. Fruit trees take some time. This is an investment in our future. But each of these fruit trees has the potential to produce delicious and nutritious fruit for decades to come. This $5,000 will likely turn into the equivalent of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of food. These trees will nourish thousands of people, provide beauty to the neighborhoods, serve as habitat to our fellow species, bring joy to the people who care for them and eat the bounty and disrupt the globalized food system, if only a little.
This to me is more important than pocketing $5,000.
Why not keep this money and save for a comfortable future? Because our future is uncertain, and I deem now more important. I believe we are in dire times. I don’t know what the state of the world at “retirement age” will be, but I know the state of the world right now. Sure, I could need the money forty years down the road, but a billion people need the money now. People are hungry now. A million species need us to wake up now. The very Earth that our future depends on needs care and love RIGHT NOW. I can’t risk saving up all my money, to create wealth so that I can give back LATER. I don’t think the present can afford that type of thinking.
So, if you’re wondering why I don’t live a life that focuses around retirement savings, health insurance and planning for later… this is why. I’m here to give my service to a humanity and a global community in need of the care and attention. I’m confident I’ll figure out what to do with myself in the long run. I’m creating community around me and believe that we can take care of each other. And the worst-case scenario is that I die. Around 150,000 people die per day and none are any less important or deserving of a good life than I am. The bottom line is that my future is no more important than anyone else’s future. And for the sake of all of our future, we need more action now.
PS. This is not altruism or selflessness. This is an investment in my future as well. I breathe the air and drink the water of this Earth. I also get great purpose and fulfilment from this work and gain great satisfaction from this work. This life makes me feel good and gives me a good reason to live.