Remember when you were a kid and all the big people liked to ask, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I never felt like it was truly a “fill in the blank” question. My parents worked hard to educate and elevate themselves above the station of their parents, and their parents had done the same. My turn, now, and if I had any chance to raise the generational success bar it seemed that the question was coming to me in a multiple-choice format:
c) Business Person
What I needed was the option that drove me crazy on school tests. The one that made me uncertain about the other choices. The one that lured me into thinking that the right answer might lie somewhere else entirely. I needed:
e) None of the above.
I was lucky enough to encounter the tree-climbing profession at an early age, and its invitation to my inner romantic was much like the famous “Help Wanted” invitation above issued by Ernest Shackleton to get a crew for one of the most perilous adventures in human history.
Of course, when you’re hanging from the top of a tree on a ½-inch rope and have a running chainsaw in your hands, you’ve certainly found yourself in a hazardous position. Hazardous to the body, maybe, but one of the safest places in the world for a thriving human spirit that wants to grow in strength and courage. In fact, for that type of spirit, the most hazardous place in the world might be a chair beside a desk.
No one enters the Green industry as a part of a “Get rich quick” scheme. Well, that’s not exactly true. Let’s skip down to deeper definitions of “rich”
4. Of a color, sound, smell, etc. pleasantly deep or strong: “basmati rice has a rich aroma”
5. Interesting because full of diversity or complexity: “what a full, rich life you lead!”
Ok. You can become a tree climber as a part of a “get rich quick” scheme, so long as the definitions of “rich” and “wage” are expanded. Being that no two trees are ever constructed the same, diversity and complexity are a given. The full wages of the profession are a respectable shake of folding money, and a lion’s share of self-respect, camaraderie, physical health, and deep, restful sleep.
Yes, occasionally bitter cold in the winter, and very often stifling heat in the summer. The occupation presents physical extremes that test the spirit. But the exposure to intense weather encourages human bonding in the field and fosters great appreciation for the simple comforts of life at home. Tree climbers learn to love their homes for all the comfort, familial love, and quiet security it provides.
Amongst those of us who choose this hazardous and challenging profession, there is nothing more rewarding than the respect and honor of our fellow climbers. Tree climbing is the ultimate test of mind and body, and success can feel like an A+ on the exam and a Gold Medal in the competition all at the same time.
The twenty-something tree climber in me might have liked to think that this was a part of the invitation and the romance of the tree-climbing profession, but the maturing man who began to value tomorrow as much as today was pleased to learn that the invitation of “Safe Return Doubtful” belonged to an earlier era of tree climbing or logging. Or, if it has a modern application, it is to men and women who attack the work recklessly and improperly equipped.
While the profession is inherently hazardous, good decision making, training, and proper equipment produce a level of hazard management that allows for long, healthy, rewarding careers.
Let’s summarize. If you want to be challenged, cold in the winter, hot in the summer, stung by bugs, and poisoned by ivy, and if you want to have your physical and mental limits pushed to new levels, have your senses tingled by hazardous encounters, and enjoy the deep level of comradery that grows in the face of all of the above, and if you want to have a healthy and natural appreciation for the warmth and security of your home, and if you value a sound, good and hard-earned night’s rest, then you need to come climb with us and enjoy the best job in the world.