Estimated reading time: 5 minutes, 58 seconds
I caught myself taking time to meticulously sharpen my dull Swiss Army Knife blades the other day and remembered the lumberjack story. I am currently at a decision point in my life and have chosen to pause and sharpen my metaphorical saw.
The Lumberjack Story
It was the annual lumberjack competition and the final was between an older experienced lumberjack and a younger, stronger lumberjack. The rule of the competition was quite simply who could fell the most trees in a day was the winner.
The younger lumberjack was full of enthusiasm and went off into the wood and set to work straight away, he worked all through the day and all through the night. As he worked he could hear the older lumber jack working to in another part of the forest, he felt more and more confident with every tree he felled that he would win.
At regular intervals throughout the day the noise of frees being felled coming from the other part of the forest would stop, the younger lumberjack took heart from this knowing that this meant the older lumberjack was taking a rest, whereas he could use his superior youth and strength and stamina to keep going.
At the end of the competition the younger lumberjack felt confident he had won, he looked in front of him at the piles of felled trees that were the result of his superhuman effort.
At the medal ceremony he stood on the podium confident and expecting to be awarded the prize of champion lumberjack, next to him stood the older lumberjack who looked surprisingly less exhausted than he felt.
When the results were read out, he was devastated to hear that the older lumberjack had chopped down significantly more trees than he had, he turned to the older lumber jack and said,
“How can this be? I heard you take a rest every hour and I worked continuously through the night, once more I am stronger and fitter than you old man”.
The older lumberjack turned to him and said,
“Every hour I took a break to rest and sharpen my saw”
The fork in the road
After careful consideration and consulting my closest friends and family, I have decided to do a difficult thing and hang up my trauma shears, stethoscope, and uniform for a single path, that of a remodeling contractor. The high road in my directionally challenged sort of way.
As a Paramedic, I have been entrusted with tremendous responsibility and the opportunity to do all sorts of wonderful things for the injured and critically ill for the past 37 years. I have been present and participated in all aspects of the “circle of life”.
I have responded to and dealt with unthinkable tragedy, I have participated in making people of all ages better, often with strong medicine and complicated therapies, always in my own loving compassionate way. I have fulfilled my duties and made sense out of chaos at all hours of the night and day, in every climate, on the earth, and way up in the air at hundreds of miles an hour.
I have had so much fun I giggle when I think about how fortunate I have been to get to do what I have done. I have earned the trust and respect of my partners and peers at every level of the medical profession, I even inspired a handful of others to become Paramedics.
I have narrowly cheated death more times than I will admit. I am leaving at the top of my addictive carrier “cold turkey” to embark on a road less traveled. The memories of which I will reminisce about like fishing stories, for the rest of my life.
As I have aged and seen my old friends and coworkers retire and occasionally, sadly pass away, I realized that I am no longer the spring chicken I once was, at 56 years old, I believe that I have occupied a seat on the aircraft for long enough. Although I have been good at disguising it, I have not been recovering from my busy shifts as I used to. The cumulative effect of being chronically exhausted and distracted have started to show. It is now time to make way for the next generation of great medics. To myself I must be true, it is time to retire and be thankful for a wonderful carrier.
My new path
Levco, my little remodeling company that started out of necessity, (when a neighbor came by one of my projects to tell me that I was going to be remodeling their entire home), has been growing slowly in the background of my EMS life for nearly a decade has finally blossomed into a vibrant business that requires my complete focus and attention.
My remodeling peers have quietly ridiculed me for treating remodeling as merely a hobby. I assure them that it is no longer the case. Now that the pendulum has swung my attention away from EMS (Emergency Medical Services) completely. I have to agree with those who have consistently said, “I don’t get how you do so much”. This has honestly been the theme throughout my working life. Thanks dad, I have confirmed that it is the dreaded recessive genetic “Levitch” disorder you passed on to at least two of your sons. I can only hope I did not pass it on to my children.
To sharpen my saw, I have just joined an international remodeling round table organization, it is billed as a mentored peer group that promises to help me grow as a business professional and will ultimately hold me accountable for slowing down a bit to maintain a good sharp edge, working smarter not harder.
The challenges that are before me are substantial, this remodeling shtick is not an easy business to master, but I have never been one to shy away from a challenge.
To my entire EMS community, as the sun sets on my carrier, I say “keep up the great work, what you do is priceless!”. “May you always have a tail wind on your way home and have the wisdom to do the right thing, at the right time, with compassion”.
As the first patient ever flown in Life Flight back in 1986 said in a note, “I will always stop and say a little prayer every time I hear a helicopter for the safety and wellbeing of the patient and crew”
A toast to the future
Here is a toast to the future and all the wonders it has in store.
To my current and future clients and company I say that I am completely dedicating myself to remodeling. You will be getting the benefit of 100% Joe juice not the watered down version of the past decade.
To my friends and family. I regret being chronically too busy to hang out together; I look forward to a much more balanced, calm, creative, and equally fulfilling life with you all.