I’ve been living in Maine coming up on two years. I was in Atlanta ten years previously and before that, Rochester, NY, where I grew up.
Beyond the weather, my life in Maine has been very very different from my life in Atlanta. I’ve learned and grown a lot up here, more in two years than in the last ten. It’s really stretched me, and I am glad I made the leap.
Recently, my reflections have been about work. That’s been a tremendous change as I had never worked in a job that required three dimensional thinking. I was buried in spreadsheets at a computer. Quite frankly, I questioned whether I was going to catch on or if I was wasting my time, time that I feel I have less of as I get older. It stirred quite a bit of anxiety in me. I do feel that I have caught on, and contribute to the team, but it has been a lot of hard work and it hasn’t come naturally to me. Thankfully, I work with very patient and kind people, that is all I will say about that.
My old goal in life was to accumulate enough money so that I didn’t have to work. It’s very different if you really like what you do. If my body was to not give out until I was 80, I might want to continue on til then. I don’t think I would have ever discovered this without moving to Maine.
It is hard to enjoy a job that doesn’t really need to be done. I used to do IT audits for a mattress company that only needed an audit to begin with, because a private equity firm bought the company and loaded it up with a ton of debt and fired all the workers. The bank mandated it. It was tough to find any meaning in that job.
The most important lesson I’ve learned, and better late than never, is how much a single individual, let alone a focused team, can build if they set their minds to it. It’s truly inspiring and opens up horizons that I never would have considered. This I think may be unique to Maine and its rugged “Mainer” culture. Perhaps it is the lack of industry that has forced people to figure things out, but I have met some very remarkable people up here.
I am working with a guy that has built his own house. I work with another guy who took apart an historic house and rebuilt it on his own property, including the chimney—brick by brick. I met another gentleman who in 50 years accomplished more than I ever thought a single human could accomplish. He built a barn out of old telephone poles. Then, he built a boat shop and a timber frame shop in it. He built his own huge timber frame home along with several other homes. That’s the tip of the ice berg.
They may be a dying breed, but I wish everyone could be exposed to this level of self-determination, because it is sadly and increasingly missing in American culture. So many people, including myself at times, wait for someone else to say yes or change something, but if everyone knew just what could be accomplished by setting one’s mind to a task without giving up, the world might be much different.