Aspen current thinking column


Spring 2013

August Current Thinking Column

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Reflections on a Life

by Leslie Dashew
Partner, Aspen Family Business Group

A good friend died last week and we went to the memorial yesterday. The service included two passages that particularly touched me.

The first was a story from the Torah:

A man was traveling through the desert, hungry, thirsty and tired, when he came upon a tree bearing luscious fruit and affording plenty of shade, underneath which ran a spring of water. He ate of the fruit, drank of the water and rested beneath the shade.

When he was about to leave, he turned to the tree and said: “Tree, O tree, with what should I bless you?

“Should I bless you that your fruit be sweet? Your fruit is already sweet.

“Should I bless you that your shade be plentiful? Your shade is plentiful. That a spring of water should run beneath you? A spring of water runs beneath you.

“There is one thing with which I can bless you: May it be God’s will that all the trees planted from your seeds should be like you . . .”

So what is the mark we want to have on those who follow?  What is the legacy we want to leave?

Is it the fruit of our labors that we want our children and grandchildren to have?  Or the ability to be fruitful and to feel good about that ability.

I believe that most of us would like our offspring to be productive and to share our values, as in this case, to produce sweet fruit, offer help to others and be nourished.

And if we are very fortunate and truly live our lives with integrity (i.e. living our own values) then we might see our offspring manifest the same values. But even more important is that our children differentiate and become their own “selves” and follow the path toward their own dreams. When we are in a family business, often we hope that our kids’ dreams will coincide with ours and that they will succeed us in the business. Yet often the “trees planted from (our) seeds…may share some of our values, but not necessarily our dreams.

The second prayer tells us how to live our lives such that we are remembered by those who follow.

Let us treasure the time we have,
and resolve to use it well,
counting each moment precious – a chance to apprehend some truth,
to experience some beauty, to conquer some evil,
to relieve some suffering, to love and be loved,
to achieve something of lasting worth.
Help us, God, to fulfill the promise that is in each of us,
and so to conduct ourselves that generations hence
it will be true to say of us:
The world is better, because for a brief space, they lived in it

-Rabbi John Rayner

Our most precious asset is not our “gold” or even our knowledge. It is our time. How we use our time defines that which is most important to us. Will we relieve some suffering or experience some beauty or do something less constructive?

With each death I experience, I have a deeper appreciation of how fleeting are the moments of our lives. Taking the opportunity to reflect on that which is most important to us to accomplish, helps us determine how we will use each of the moments ahead.

Further, as I think about the phrase “fulfill the promise that is in each of us…” I appreciate that fulfilling our own promise and supporting others in so doing may take us on different paths. Once again, honoring the differentiation of those close to us helps us to fulfill the dreams and to make the world better.

I hope to see you in Greece next month.

The Aspen Family Business Program in Greece is next month. Register before it is too late!

Go to for more information and to register.


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