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The Forum

A Place to Connect - Commit - Act

The Forum Is a site for people who wish to do something, about something.  It doesn’t matter what condition you wish to improve, only that you identify it, accept the fact that you can create change, and take action to this end. Here’s how. Read our Stories; Share your Own. Our goal is to facilitate action by providing a site where people can connect with others and share stories of personal commitment and all ..  Learn More

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Little Things

By now you may have noticed a theme in these postings; I certainly hope so. My intention is to create a place where people can share their stories of change. Change from the pursuit of goals that forever seem just beyond reach. Change from denying the truth that what a person wants to do is not ridiculous after all. Change from thinking you’re too old to change; or too young to know what you want. I don’t buy any of this.

Airplane with Smoke Trail

This concept, offered in personal stories of how people have come to accept their own goals, set out to live them—and experienced the often unexpected rewards—is the foundation of The Forum. This week’s post will therefore reflect one such story that began over a year ago and is continuing still. The setting is central New Mexico, and begins with the cutting down of a dying tree.

The man, in his early 40’s and the owner of the tree service, was on his way to an estimate. A lady had a dying tree she was hoping to save. Driving Interstate 40 through the deserts east of Albuquerque was an almost daily routine for him. But he was happy with his new business, now in its third year and growing rapidly, and happier yet to be doing precisely what he wanted to do. He loved the outdoors, the interaction with grateful people, and the learning that went along with a daily diet of new experiences. He never knew what the day would hold.

These rides allowed him time to relive his past, and the events that had brought him to this moment. Driving his black diesel pickup truck, pulling an Iron Bull trailer filled with hard hats and power saws, his growing expertise…all this didn’t just happen. He had had his share of difficult times, but rose to be the state representative of a premier power tool company. Yet after two years he quit that job and soon began his tree service business. He had summed up his take on this decision about a year later when he called to tell me that he was working late in his office, and that a herd of deer had just walked by.

Meeting his new client and inspecting the sick tree, it soon became clear that it would have to be cut down. The woman was quiet for some moments and then spoke of how she and her husband had planted the tiny sapling there so many years back. Her husband was now gone, and soon the tree would be too. There was little to say, so the man went to work and soon the job was done. He filled the trailer with the remnants of the old tree, said goodbye to the woman, and left. He had new thoughts on his way home.

Shortly after this, he had a similar experience with a lady who had planted a plum tree with her young daughter. This was many years ago and the girl had since passed away. As he had done with the first woman, he kept a piece of that tree as well. He took these to a local woodworker who specialized in hand-made art. Almost a year later two small wooden boxes were ready, each constructed of maple and cedar, and each featuring a beautiful inlay of wood from a long-ago time. A time when a young husband and wife planted a tree in the sun and laughed off toward the rest of their lives. A time when a mother and her little girl dug a hole together, and never gave a thought to tomorrow.

The man has seen neither of the women since those days a year ago. He is thinking of how he will deliver these two gifts. Perhaps he will drop by and tell them he has a little present. They will likely wonder why something of a stranger would do such a thing. But they will be grateful and thank him. He may then point out that the inlay is made from the tree you and your husband planted, or from the plum tree you planted with your daughter. I can only imagine what may happen then. But there will be some human contact that will never be forgotten, and there will be smiles.

When I heard this story earlier today I decided to call the woodworker and thank him for what he and my son had done. Once he connected the two of us he became quite friendly and soon he was talking about his own trail to where he is today. Whatever roads, he now is happy to be working as he chooses. He says it’s not the money, though I do pay my bills. No, not the money, “It’s the smiles.”

I thought about this after we said goodbye. I knew he had charged far less than his labor was worth, but he had chosen to do so. He knew he would make two women happy; he had made my son happy, and so he was happy. And he could pay his bills, so, smiles all around! I, too, am smiling as I write this.

Stanley Odle

November 2023

Postscript: Once again, we encourage and welcome such stories for publication in The Forum. There is no format, just tell us what you will, and we will see to it that others may have the opportunity to hear your words.

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