Planting the Tree Today

I'm back. Thanks, readers, for indulging me while I took a little time off from writing.

I've been thinking about this quote a lot recently:

The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago.
The next best time to plant a tree is now.

Unfortunately, I've been agonizing lately over why I didn't start doing certain things earlier in life. I wish, for example, that I had begun compound lifting much, much earlier in my life. My body (at its current age) just doesn't respond all that well to heavy workouts. It takes me days to recover, and after a good workout of deadlifts, squats, pullups and bench presses, I am wiped. Wiped out for the rest of the day. I wish I were fitter and more robust than I am, despite all the effort I put into my fitness.

Sure, there are solutions here. I can do lighter, milder, maintenance-type workouts. I usually feel good after workouts of that level of intensity. But then I'll just be in maintenance mode. That's fine, but in maintenance mode I won't be getting stronger, I won't be growing.

This is one of those examples where I think to myself, "shit, if I had just planted this compound lifting 'tree' twenty years ago, I'd have a real tree now. I'd be much more adapted to lifting at a level that I'd be satisfied with." But I can't go back to twenty years ago and plant that compound lifting tree. I can only plant it today. (Well, technically, I planted it a few years ago, but still.)

I can come up with lots of other examples, sadly: I wish I had taken up drawing or painting earlier in life. I wish I had learned to surf earlier. I wish I had taken up language learning wayyyy earlier--like back when I was still a teenager.

And then, I recall a conversation with a friend of mine who's then-partner told her, "It's too late for me to get started on retirement. I'm too old now to bother to save money." He was just thirty-seven at the time.

Now, let's take a moment and notice the circular logic and self-defeatism of giving up on doing something simply because it's possible you could have started earlier. This should resonate with anyone embracing YMOYL, early retirement or any of the frugality strategies discussed thoughout Casual Kitchen. If your first thought is "it's too late for me" then nothing can ever be worth doing. Tough to go through life like that.

And so here, readers, is where I confess my hypocrisy to you. The complaint about not starting to save money earlier and my complaint about not starting lifting earlier are identical! They are the same.

Of course it's always easier to see flaws and hypocrisies in others than in ourselves, isn't it?

So there's my problem and my challenge--and yours too, if you struggle with the "it's too late" issue anywhere in your life: Get over yourself and plant the tree. Now.

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1 comment:

Taz @ Climb the Rainbow said...

This struck a chord with me. I feel like this all of the time when it comes to learning anything new. To add insult to injury, I take it a step further and insist on comparing myself to others who did start earlier. Obviously, this is a spectacularly unhelpful thing to do. Get over yourself and plant the damn tree now is good advice.