|Dark skies contrast with the sunlit leaves and limbs of a Quercus garryana at the top of a cliff on Hamilton Mountain in the Columbia River Gorge.|
Well, let's get back on track. I've been considering a change for several months now, but have kept it (mostly) to myself until I'd made a decision and informed the people who needed to know first. So, here's my big announcement:
I'm leaving horticulture so I can garden.
Confused? I'll elaborate. I've worked in horticulture since my first job in high school. I've never worked in any other industry I never thought I ever would. But, after repeatedly failing to find what I'm looking for, I've decided it's time to try something different. I kept running into problems. Perhaps simply of my own making, but either way things didn't work out. I've known since my first job in high school that I didn't want to work at a nursery full-time. I don't like being covered in dirt and sweat and all in the cold rain or baking in the summer sun. Call me a wimp, I just think I understand my own limits. Not everyone is suited to working outdoors. I ran into the same problem working as a full-time gardener. I'm a little too obsessive compulsive, a bit too much of a neat freak. More importantly, I don't have the physical stamina for either of those jobs. I was so exhausted I had no energy for my own garden, if I could even afford one. What's the point of working with plants if you can't afford your own garden and are too tired to play with your own plants even if you could? Most importantly, through several of those kinds of positions, I haven't been satisfied in my work or in my life.
|At Cistus Nursery, a silvery white willow (Salix alba), drapes it's smaller limbs dramatically across a contrasting dark green Ceanothus with blue flowers.|
I've had jobs I enjoyed more. I still think I'd like working as a plant recorder or curator at a public garden. Unfortunately, those jobs are hard to come by on the West Coast, and I'm stubbornly set on living in this small region of the United States, west of the Cascade and Sierra Nevada Mountain Ranges, north of San Francisco and no further north than Vancouver, B.C. in Canada. Some people can live anywhere. I've lived in several areas of the United States and found that I'm not one of those people. Where I live is at least as important as what I do. I don't like my job dictating where I live. I think I'd probably enjoy Chile, New Zealand, or parts of Australia, but I've never even visited any of those places. My dream is to live on the Oregon coast, especially Brookings, because you can grow just about anything there.
Some of my readers know that I've been in contact with a graduate professor, trying to get into grad school. I kept getting the same message. No funding. Hang on. We'll keep trying. A few months ago, I finally got sick of being told to wait and feeling helpless. Yes, I could start over with my grad school search, try to find another professor who had a project I wanted to work on and who wanted to work with me, and hope we could work out funding, but the idea just made me more sick. I needed to do something to give myself a sense of control over my own life. I decided it was time to seek alternative paths.
|Cistus 'Mickie' makes a dramatic contrast against the dark green of Yucca filamentosa.|
|Yucca filamentosa forms a green sunburst as a dramatic background for the blooms of Parahebe perfoliata.|
|A daunting and majestic cliff on the trail up Hamilton Mountain.|
This whole process has made me question how we teach children to follow their passion. Don't get me wrong, I think it's great if someone can make a living doing that. But I also think it's wrong to put so much focus on work. What's wrong with finding work that is simply enjoyable and gives us satisfaction? I think it depends as much on the kind of work, what skills the work requires, as it does on the industry or subject at hand. Maybe we should teach people to examine their skills and the kind of work they enjoy doing, in addition to fostering their passions. And are we allowed only one passion? I think not. So I'm going to try building a life for myself, rather than just a career.
And that's my big news. I know I didn't owe anyone an announcement or explanation, but I wanted to share. It may not seem like a big revelation to anyone else, but for me it's life-altering. Just chalk it up to my sense of the dramatic and one of my episodes of over-sharing. It may seem counter-intuitive to work with computers so I can garden more, but working from home will give me a little more time (no more commute) and a lot more flexibility. And yes, part of the appeal of web development is the income, which will allow me to actually afford my own home and garden, something I just can't picture achieving in the horticulture industry before I'm 60, if ever. Maybe I'm being impatient and dramatic, but I'm happier with my decision to change than to try to stick with a path that doesn't seem to be leading anywhere and that I'm no longer satisfied with.
Unfortunately, this does mean I'll be leaving my position as propagator at Cistus Nursery at the end of June, so they'll be needing a replacement. As much as I love the people there, the work isn't something I want to do full-time and I decided it would be worth it to no longer have to move twice a week between Castle Rock and Portland. The resulting "free" time will be dedicated to learning coding and continuing to work for plantlust.com. It will also allow me to help my parents get all their new plants through this first year. By this time next year, I hope to leave them to their own devices.