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Where I’m at, and where I’d like to be.

July 10, 2013
Lower Rock Creek

Lower Rock Creek

(A “Looking back down the Trail” side-route)

So I wanted to share some things with you that maybe aren’t exactly about the forests and campgrounds and trails of Missouri, directly. I wanted to take a few moments to explain myself and where I am in my life. Why is this important? Why would I blog about this? Well, most of my motivation for writing this post is because I don’t have the answers I’m looking for, and I am searching for some insight. I also know that a portion of the motivation is fueled by the thought that if I was following a blog by a guy who was camping and hiking all the time, I would eventually ask “What the heck does this guy do for a living?!?”

What do I do for a living?

At the moment…nothing, but not for a lack of trying.

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In about 8 hours from this moment, I would severely sprain my left ankle. 4 months later it still isn’t back to normal.

I have been a member of the Carpenters Union here in St. Louis since September of 2002. It has been a rewarding career…at least in the beginning before everything screeched to a halt. Back in December of 2008 I was laid off by a company that I had been working for very steadily for five good, plentiful years. Since that point, just around four and a half years ago, I have probably been on the job for only around 24-30 months. I have been employed half the time. Imagine what a 50% cut to your funds would do to your economic situation…

Now, I AM a good carpenter and I do enjoy the work. I show up on time, and I am a smart guy that has the ability to grasp and pull off whatever product the plans call for. I know what I’m doing and I work hard. But the downturn in the economy with its snail’s-pace recovery, and some badly timed opportunities, have made it difficult to find steady employment. This continual happening of “Nobody’s Hiring”, combined with working for only a few of weeks or months at a time (and then having to find a company with work again, who needs guys and isn’t just putting their own people back on) is a process that I am past becoming fatigued from, more emotionally than anything. Those aspects, coupled with too many moments where I have felt an unearthly and serendipitous manipulation from a higher power to spend my time writing and being surrounded by nature, has lead me to a line of thinking that maybe building houses isn’t what I want to do with my life.

So maybe I don’t want to be a carpenter anymore.

It is a frustrating realization to think that this career that I have invested time and walked through occasional embers to pursue is the wrong path. I have enjoyed my work, when it was happening, and all the benefits that came from it. The pay is good. My family had health insurance. Turns out that I am surprisingly mechanically inclined. And it kept me in shape and allowed me to sleep peacefully at night. I love all those aspects of it. But as of late, I have not had any chance to prove myself and my abilities so that I can gain steady, full time, reliable employment (which is what I truly need). And that has been wearing me down, among a few other aspects of the construction industry that I feel are more negativity than I want to have to tolerate.

015At the suggestion of a friend, and the thoughtful support of some of the people in my life, I started this blog at the end of March this year. I needed to feel like I was being productive somehow, against all the similarly ended phone calls of “No, sorry…we’re just not hiring right now”.

And it has helped to distract me. It has also given me an exterior motivation to head to the woods and spend time in nature with God and this beautiful environment. Additionally it has brought me back to my love of writing (boy, if I could just learn to type!!!). Through the ability to be creative these past four months, it has helped me to see that there are things beyond what I have been trying to be in my life. That there are things that I love spending my time doing, that take no struggle for motivation whatsoever.

377451_2675415365380_2087416579_nSo do what you love, right? I would love to have a job spending time in the forest. A career where I can be involved in conservation and the outdoors. Something that is connected to these places I love to be in. I have been saying lately that what I want to do for a living is just hike through the woods with my dog and write about it. As nobody pays anybody to do that, I do know that being in the forest and writing are two very internally satisfying pursuits for me, and regardless of income I will continue to do them both.

So how do I do something along those lines for a living? I believe I would enjoy working for the Conservation Department or the Department of Natural Resources. But to have any type of career with either of them where you can provide for your family and not have to relocate takes an educational background that I do not possess, and opportunities that rarely exist. I do not have a degree, and at the moment I do not have the economic capabilities and freedom to pursue that. I have kids that need food and clothes, and utilities to be paid. But if I could just see the path that would take me to where I could make a decent living doing these things I love, I would run down it.

20130406_140146I don’t really know for sure what the next step is…but I have obviously discovered something that I love to do, and I believe in my heart that the universe keeps pushing me away from what I used to do. But I have to be a provider, so what I WANT right now doesn’t seem like the thing that I NEED right now. What I need is a job and a paycheck. And I am continuing to spend a good portion of most of my mornings in the search of those two things, no matter the lack of positions or amount of rejection. Because it isn’t something that I can just stop doing.

DSCF1406So I don’t know what you will get from this, but I just felt the need to explain myself. To confess. To let you in on the secret of what a guy who hikes all the time and blogs about it does for a living. To throw it out there to the universe and the internet and other people what I want to be when I grow up, to see where it lands. And if you have any insight on finding the trail that I WANT to be on…or know of anyone who is hiring carpenters…don’t hesitate to share.

Please know that I am also not telling you all this for pity or handouts. Sure, things are very tough financially right now and the horizon doesn’t look that bright at the moment, but the silver lining is that I get to spend a lot more time with my kids and a lot more time in the woods. I don’t have an awful life right now, and there are people out there who have it much worse. I am very thankful for the blessings in my life and for the opportunity to wake up every single new day.

DSCF1900And I am thankful for you and for your following this exercise of mine that is this blog. I get a lot out of it and I hope you do too. I know that a lot of blogs on the internet are out there to provide income, but I can’t imagine that it’s a lot of money, and I can’t imagine that advertisements throughout THIS blog could improve things for you or I (do you see ads on here when you check out a post? I would imagine that WordPress adds a couple, but I can’t ever see them). I don’t ever want someone following my blog here to get that sense that I am trying to sell you something, because that isn’t me. If I am selling anything, it’s the Missouri outdoors, and nature in general…and I don’t impose any fees. I know that this is along the lines of how I would like to spend my days, and if I could find the path to make it a career I would…but…I’ve already made that very clear.

DSCF2013And until that door-to-open presents itself, I will continue to look for work every chance I get, as I have been.

Thank you for your time and attention, and have a great day. Get out in the woods, please. It is good for you in ways you won’t even recognize.

(See where this trail began, here)

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8 Comments
  1. Go for it. Keep on dreaming and doing what you love! Thanks for this post.

  2. Been there, done that, which is why I now drive truck for a living. Never thought that I would end up this way, but, one does need to eat.

    I got tired of the automotive industry after 25 years of being stuck inside a factory for 8 to 10 hours a day, and changed careers at exactly the wrong time, for the economy crashed before I had a chance to really get established in the new career. So I do what it takes to pay the bills, even though I hate it.

    I can also tell you that several of my friends went to college for degrees that would lead them to careers in the outdoors, and every one of them relocated out of Michigan to find work after they had their degree. That’s somewhat because of the nature of this state to begin with, I’m not sure it’s the same everywhere, but I have a hunch that Missouri would be similar, in that there’s probably many people who grow up there and want a career in the outdoors.

    But, you’re young, and the economy is slowly recovering, so I would guess that you’ll have steady work as a carpenter again soon.

    I can also tell you from experience that many outdoor activities are fun as a hobby, but they can become a lot like work if you do pursue them as a career, be careful what you wish for.

    If I were you, I’d make a list of possible career choices and begin listing the pros and cons for each. Sometimes seeing things in writing or on a computer screen makes things clearer. You are a talented writer, and obviously intelligent, which will go a long way for you no matter what you decide.

    • I really appreciate what you have to say, and I would guess that you are right about the amount of people that grow up here wanting to work in nature versus the amount of jobs available.
      And the economy is growing and I am just frustrated with the struggle to find a job…so I am convincing myself to just give it up, when it is still the best career option.
      You are also very right about something a person enjoys doing becoming a burden. Just this summer I have had to make the conscious decision to NOT take the camera out of my pocket and just enjoy where I was at at the time. That I was just going to enjoy being there and directly get the satisfaction from it…instead of focusing on mechanical and observational things.
      And I appreciate your kind words. Thank you. I joke that one of my biggest hurdles is conveying any eloquence I possess with a keyboard, into everyday conversation, because I feel I sure can SOUND smart…on paper.
      Take care, my friend!

  3. Hang in there, I am a huge believer things happen for a reason. Your positive insight to life is a direct reflection of your relationship with nature. If you truly want to become involved in forestry/conservation then the first step has been taken. You identified your dream. See about the possibility of online courses, look at grants/financial aid to help. You have profound writing skills, a great outlook- good things happen to good people. Soon it will be your turn!

    • I like the way you think, Tony…and a day last week when my son needed some attention, acting out and being disruptive, I dropped his sister off at their Mom’s house and took him on a hike. As we were driving there, I just kept thinking (excuse me if I misquote) “It is solved by walking”. And it was good for both of us. We both calmed down and were able to connect as a father and son, hiking for a few miles in the woods.
      Earlier this year I applied to one of the community colleges here in the St. Louis area. Now I just have to take that step to call and set up an appointment with someone in the student councilor’s office to talk about my future and the resources available. I just HAVE to do it.
      And thank you for your kind words…it has been good to actually focus on writing again in my life. It was something that has been neglected since I was young, and it is good for me.
      Take care, man…and let me know when you have any information to share about the plan for September.

  4. Stay positive, like agreco, I think things happen for a reason. There may be other ways for your love of nature to be a career for you, look at not for profits and philanthropy organizations that work to help sustain nature. Sometime volunteering leads to opportunity. Good Luck and keep writing! I am starting to get more and more curious about Missouri outdoors!

    • Yes, positivity and optimism are key…in everything. I think things happen for a reason too…and I know that in March if I had NOT sprained my ankle and gone to work for the company that was going to put me on ( https://campingmissouri.org/2013/03/31/some-of-the-worst-things-can-happen-in-the-best-places-sam-a-baker-315-317-2013/ )…I would not have gotten nearly as involved in focusing on writing or being outdoors and sharing it through this blog as much as I have. And it has been life changing, in a very subtle and positive way.
      I like the idea of looking into not-for-profits and philanthropy organizations. I have thought about that and I think I just haven’t known where to start. Going to have to give that path some attention, so thank you for the suggestion!
      And I’ve said it already in one form or another, though we don’t have the majesty and breath-taking abilities of some other places in the world, Missouri has a lot of charm and a lot of beauty in its forests, and I am totally in love with it. I appreciate you checking my posts out, thank you.

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