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.
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“Mazel tov” I’ll miss you Jose Levi………….
Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I return the praise for you and what you do. Amy, you have raised the bar as well. This was no easy thing for me to do. I am torn apart in many ways that need to be mended. This is my best guess as to what I want to do with the rest of my life. I feel like I have done it all in EMS. Remodeling is scarey and exciting too, I just might be able to have some Joe time which is something that I have been sacrificing for long enough. I will find some other ways to keep my cup filled and running over. Be well and keep in touch.
will miss doing crosswords with you ! Good luck, not that you’ll needit!
Steve I love your faith in me. I think I can use all the good Mo Jo you’ve got. A pleasure working with you all those years! Keep my buddies safe at the network, I’m counting on you. See you around, all my love to Brenda.
Great blog, brother. It’s been a pleasure knowing and working with you for the short 7 years I’ve been here in Idaho and look forward to having you to my house from time to time for upgrades and repairs. I must admit, as a fellow Flight Paramedic I lose sight of why we’re here and what we’re supposed to be doing from time to time. As you and I would pass each other at shift change ( when we wore maroon flight suits as well as our current navy blue…) and I would hear a story or two of what you had recently done for a patient, and sometimes what you could not do for them, it caused me to pause and “re-sharpen my saw” to remind me to refocus and put the proper priorities first. I’ll never achieve your mastery at dealing with patients and family on aspects outside of the medicine but I will resolve to always try. Keep your saw sharp and your cell phone handy and above all enjoy your new path.
Mark, I have always admired you as well. Keep up the great work that the program does, I’m sure I will need to be updated from time to time on the haps of the program and the family of employees. Keep it safe and I will definitely see you around, as I have an unfinished project at your home.
Wow, thank you for your service. Your heart shines through in your letter. I now know an honest stand up man I can call for a project we have coming up.
Thank you Judy, I will be standing by for when you are ready.
Thank you Joe for your many years of service to our community and state of Idaho. It was great to spend time with you so many years ago in EMS and I know you will do very well in your continuing endevers, you have the passion. You have our very best wishes Ray and Sherry
Thanks Ray, Now I can make it to our lunch dates.
Joe, the country just lost one of the best…your Dedication and commitment is surpassed by none! I have no doubt that your hobby will become one of the greatest joys of your life journey. Best of luck and I look forward to seeing some of your work, you’re a creative guy!
Marsha, Thank you so much. I am gaining confidence daily and expect to be able to realize my goals while remodeling with a flair.
On behalf of all of your friends here at Ada County Paramedics, I wish you nothing but the best. You, and those you served with, have left us with a remarkable legacy and very lofty standards to uphold. Thank you for your example. Please know that we still use your dedication to taking care of people (and not just their acute medical problems) as a model for all of us to follow.
In the infamous words of Tammye Erdmann “Holy Cow”, I shared your comment around the table at a dinner with my remodeling brothers in Charlotte South Carolina. Thank your for your kind words, I am proud to be remembered for such a small thing that came from my heart. If you ever want a class on compassion I would be happy to share my secret to longevity beyond the adrenalin rush in the EMS field.
Joe, will miss seeing you in the halls of the ED. As someone who has known you from the beginning and seeing the hair change from black to gray…it is time to devote yourself to just one job, your friends and mostly family. Enjoy this new one directional chapter in your life.
Wow, Karen, Thanks for your support and friendship through the years. There is no doubt that I will be reflecting fondly upon my EMS life and pining for that feeling of exhilaration and satisfaction of getting someone to the hospital safely. It is rare when a fellow gets the opportunity to have such a diverse working life. All I see is a new big adventure ahead of me. I am trying to ignore the rear view mirror and focus upon the future where my creativity blossoms and my rewards include focus, family, friends, and a new feeling of accomplishment and reward for adding value to homes through the remodeling process.
Best of luck with the transition to a different sort of grand adventure.
Thanks Howard, I can not thank you enough for your support in making this transition. You have been such a positive role model in my life. Stand by to be impressed!
Carlyn, thank you for being in the background of my life and popping up from time to time in a supportive way. I am going to head out on my entrepreneurial round-off hand spring and try to stick the landing. This is a calculated risk that involves the support of a vast tight community of friends, family, and an international remodeling support group that in their words “has not lost a patient yet, unless they’ve left AMA” They claim that they are my “Board of directors” and will hold me accountable for my commitments to be a successful remodeler with a balanced life. Spending time with you and your family has been part of my motivation to slow down and focus so… Thanks, I look forward to hanging out more often!