The best time to plant a tree

The best time to plant a tree“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” I should have listened to my high school guidance counselor. Reviewing the results of my satisfaction test (can’t remember what it was actually called), he told me the results: The two jobs I’d most likely to find satisfying were Minister or Forest Ranger. My response… Really??? I don’t think so!!! I’m gonna be either a hotshot computer programmer or a race car mechanic. What does some old fogey and a “test” know anyway, right? So here I sit 29 years later wishing I’d followed his advice. Stuck in a cubicle, burned out with my IT job, and not spending nearly enough time outdoors. Time for a reset…

The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago…

Twenty years ago I was a newlywed and starting a new career in IT. I’d just come off of 16 years working various mechanic jobs and it was time for a change. IT looked good, so I chose that as my new career field. I should have listened to the words from my HS guidance counselor from 1981. I can’t complain about my job, but I’m burned out. It takes too much time away from my family and too much time away from spending outdoors. I’m also 56 years old. Too young to retire but too burned out to keep doing what I’m doing.

The second best time is now.

I’m working on a career change. This time I want something that will give me more free time or more flexibility. Both would be nice but if I can only have one I’ll take flexibility. Also, after 40 years (counting high school years) of working for other people, self employment is looking very tempting.

I guess technically I could do anything. Maybe even go to seminary and become a minister or go back to school and be a forest ranger. In reality, I’m 56 years old and seminary for my church is 4 – 8 years and I’d have to learn to read both Hebrew and Greek. I don’t know what kind of college degree you need to be a forest ranger, but I’m guessing at least a 4 year degree. Four to eight years of school before I can start over is too long. I should have planted one of those trees 20 years ago.

Find something useful and get good at it…

Last November I took a 2 week wilderness first responder class. I just wanted to learn first aid, maybe a little more advanced than the local 2 day Red Cross classes. I liked it so much I’ve decided to take a wilderness EMT class this summer and get my EMT license.

Also, over the past few years I’ve been taking care of a couple rental properties for my wife. You know what? It’s really hard to find a decent handyman. So I’ve had to do quite a bit of the work myself. I’m not good at everything yet, but some things I can do just as well as some of the handymen we’ve hired. I’ve also built up a pretty good tool collection.

So my options are EMT or handyman. Maybe both? I can get a part time (per diem) EMT gig and do the handyman thing when I’m not doing that. Both options are really useful skills, especially in a backwoods or backwoods home situation. The point is, I could have convinced myself it’s too late to change. Stick it out for another 10 years or so. Be miserable for the next 10 years. Spend too much time at my job and away from home life for the next 10 years. Miss the outdoors for the next 10 years.

Then what? There are no guarantees in life so who knows if I’ll even live 10 more years? The thought of doing what I’m doing now until I (possibly) die really sucks. Maybe the best time to plant this tree was 20 years ago, but the second best time is now. Until next time…

Peace out,