Friday, May 9, 2014

The path not taken...

Lately, I have been spending some time reflecting on the paths I took that brought me to where I am today.
I am not sitting alone in the dark, obsessing about my past (my psychiatrist said that is a bad thing), but on occasion I will pick a certain topic and re-visit decisions made years ago.
Some of the decisions I made were quite good – marrying my wife was one of the smartest things I have ever done. I wonder if she can make the same claim – somehow I doubt it.
The dumbest decision I have ever made was to smoke cigarettes. What the hell was I thinking?
Smelling bad, spending hard-earned money and damaging my health apparently was a cool thing to do at that age. Ah, the stupidity of youth never ceases to amaze.
With the half a century mark less than a year away, my latest reflections have been on the career choices I have made and if I could go back 30 years I would smack myself upside the head to knock some sense into my cranial region.
I really had no specific drive or direction in my younger years. The only thing I was even remotely passionate about was riding motorcycles, but there were not a lot of career options in that area.
In high school, we were told to avoid any sort of trades. There were so many carpenters, welders, electricians and plumbers out there they could not buy a job.
Nowadays, trades are like a workplace Nirvana with workers being snapped up faster than an expense cheque in the Senate.
After high school, I wandered aimlessly through life for a while, wondering what the heck I was going to do next.
I spent a couple years working in a sawmill pulling lumber off of what was called the planer chain.
Basically you spent eight hours a day stacking wood onto a big, green cart. When the cart was full, you pushed it into a pick up area where a forklift driver grabbed the pile of lumber. You then pushed the cart back to the planer chain and resumed filling it with wood again – and again and again and again...
I quickly realized I had found the true definition of boredom.
I became engaged and after enduring yet another short-term lay off, I knew I wanted a lot more out of life than piling little pieces of trees day in and day out so I looked for a more interesting job option.
I met a guy who was a newspaper photographer and he had all sorts of fun at his job, so I spent a couple years in college before embarking on my own newspaper adventure.
Over the years I have been a photographer, reporter, editor, columnist, coffee maker and have done pretty much everything but have a paper route.
I must admit, at times my new career was a lot of fun. It was great to always be going out and doing things, meeting people, taking in different events. Unlike the sawmill where you knew what you would be doing every single day, each day in the newsroom was different from the last.
But the newspaper industry has taken a few knocks lately and despite having some fun on the job even after all these years, I am thinking a different career might have been a better move.
Like gangster, or politician – oops my bad, that is basically the same thing.
I would say I should have followed my youthful dreams, but I did not really have any.
But if I could go back to the mid '80s and give myself one piece of advice it would be this: stay at the sawmill, make good money and invest every penny you can in Microsoft stock.
By now, I would be the ruler of my own island in the Caribbean.
Sigh, the path not taken...

copyright 2014, Darren Handschuh  

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