Everything fades into obscurity. Edifices, trees, street names, are created and endure for a time. Eventually everything changes, is uprooted, and vanishes.

In a world focused on what feels important now, keep planting.

My good friend and former colleague Jim Cotter shared a picture of a tree, planted in his father’s honor at the school where his dad touched hundreds of lives during a long career as an educator. An expansion of the cafeteria necessitated cutting the still-healthy tree down after thirty-two years.

My advice to him as we both mourned the tree’s passing: Re-plant.

Jim knows about this. For decades, he opened the doors to a college education for tens of thousands of students. There are generations of kids who are living amazing lives thanks to JC’s planting. His Facebook missives continue to plant seeds of wisdom. They don’t shy away from the tough questions and always make you think. Good ideas germinate into actions. Actions may scale into world-changing movements.

This week, my nephew, Tom Silver earned a Ph.D. in Artificial Intelligence from MIT. It seems like yesterday when all we could get him to eat were dried apricots and raisin bran. Now, he’s teaching robots how to learn, unlocking the fundamental principles of acquired knowledge in a new and fascinating way. The seeds he is planting may well change our existence in a profound way.

As I watched his dissertation defense dance across his PowerPoint deck, I saw a picture of my dad, his grandfather, another educator who planted the seeds of enlightenment in a time when a large majority of his constituents might have preferred the status quo.

Ancestry dot com has shed light on generations of relatives who planted and re-planted through unimaginable travail and change. Colleen and I felt that DNA coalesce last week at our grandson’s “Grandparents’ Day” event as the high school where his dad and aunt matriculated. As he grows, we feel two emotions: disappointment in leaving him a world with so many complicated problems and faith that his generation will plant the seeds of peace, harmony, and prosperity.

To paraphrase JFK, we don’t replant because it’s easy. We replant because it’s worth it.

We are cursed to relive history we already know, fight for things we thought had won, and power through to new heights when had hoped to switch to glide. We make things happen by spreading our own seeds of knowledge and experience, with positive intent and infinite resilience, however we can, wherever we can and as long as we can.

Deserts once teemed with vivacity and, someday, may do so again. Every rich forest began when a leaf from some far-away tree landed in the ashes of a devastating wildfire, germinating regeneration and renewal.

This is the unending circle of life.

I hope Jim Cotter replants his dad’s tree. I hope Tom’s innovations positively disrupt our paradigms about Artificial Intelligence. And I hope our grandson discovers his own intersection between purpose, passion and talent… where miracles materialize and dreams come true.

What differentiates us from most sentient beings is our power to choose how we respond to life’s challenges. When circumstance reorients you, choose to re-plant.