Monday, May 17, 2004

How Green Is Your Pasture?

I’m not certain where I’m going with this article, but I’ll try to keep from wandering around too much.

We’ve all heard the proverb, “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” It’s a proverb highlighting discontent, envy and jealousy in a metaphor.

How many times have you looked on that other side and wondered if the green grass over there was truly greener, or just appeared to be?

Look at the divorce statistics in this country. If that’s not a huge example of this proverb I don’t know what is! How many of you have jumped that fence, only to discover that the lure was just an illusion?

It’s an interesting bit of trivia to note that a scientific article was written proving that yes, the grass does “appear” to be greener on the other side of the fence. This observation though stems from the distance you are from the other patch of grass. To the human eye, grass at a distance appears greener then the same grass when viewed locally.

Common sense, mixed with this proverb, would have you now assume that the grass is never as green on the other side of the fence. Unfortunately we can’t jump to this conclusion either. Sometimes the grass is truly greener!

The real crux of this dilemma is that you never know if the grass is greener until you jump the fence and go see for yourself.

Therein sits the problem. Once you have jumped the fence, many times that fence is on a downhill slope and you cannot jump back over the fence. All too often people discover that not only is the grass not greener, but it is even less enjoyable then the little patch they had just abandoned.

Choice is a difficult thing. The various paths we take throughout our lives can have profound affects on us forever. If we leave our little patch of green, because we are enticed over the fence, will we be disappointed or will the new pasture be almost heaven?

Taking a new job, for example, because the money is triple your current salary, may look like a huge patch of juicy sweet grass. When you jump the fence, you may discover that the grass is greener, but that a month after you have found heaven, the grass develops an insect infestation and the patch is destroyed before your vary eyes.

Obviously the above example is another pro for staying where you are. Let’s turn it around just for fun.

In this next example, you are offered the new job with the triple salary, and you decide that if you take it, the job may not be as green as it looks. You choose to stay where you are secure, on you own little patch of green. A month later, you are let go because they decided to outsource your position. You look at the other side of the fence and see that they no longer need you.

How do you make the decision to jump that fence? Unfortunately there is no magical answer to that. My only advice is to take into consideration everything you can. How will your decision affect your current situation? How will it affect those around you? If the grass turns out to be merely an optical illusion, what will the damage be?

About the only true advice I can offer, is don’t be too eager to jump that fence. Unless you’re in a terrible situation where you are now grazing and you don’t have much to lose.

You have also heard the term “sitting on the fence”. This means that you are undecided and could go either direction. I feel it is much better to maybe climb the fence if you’d like, and view the other side from a better perspective, but just don’t take the plunge until you are certain it’s what you want to do.

I realize this article is somewhat vague, and probably makes little sense because it really has no driving point. There have been many decisions made in my life and I tend to move from pasture to pasture with a purpose. For me, the other side of the fence is in my mind. It is the goals I have set for myself, and I can see those greener pastures before I get there.

My current job as a computer networking person is no accident. Many folks see a greener pasture working in the computer networking field and just leap over the fence only to discover that there are many fences between the pasture they were eyeing, and their previous patch of green.

Over 20 years ago I was reading computer magazines by the dozen, learning to write computer programs and started taking college classes in computer subjects. I told everyone that when I retired from the Air Force I was going to work on computer systems. In the Air Force, my job was aircraft weapons systems.

When my squadron needed a computer person I volunteered and was lucky enough to be on the ground floor of building and designing their computer network. That was four years of working a lot of overtime. (No more pay. In the military we all got paid the same regardless of how many hours we work. Think about that the next time you watch our soldiers defending us for over a year in a desert armpit of a country.)

There were many fences built in my way, but I was determined to go around them and ignore any negative comments that were tossed my direction.

When I finally retired from the Air Force, my wife told me she wanted to live in Spokane Washington. When I contacted a headhunter in Spokane they laughed and said they could not even get local people work in the computer field.

I tried for several months to get work pretty much nation-wide at times, and was having no luck. Finally, a job opened in Spokane that had all the exact requirements I was knowledgeable about. The rest, as they say, is history. Was it luck or determination? I will never know the answer to that one.

So what’s the moral of this story? I suppose it’s that you should not jump over the fence hoping to instantly get into a greener pasture. You need to envision what that pasture is going to look like, then go get yourself some fertilizer, some tools, roll up your sleeves, and get to work making your pasture as green as it can be.

Hopefully others will be looking over your fence and admiring how green your pasture is compared to theirs.

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