Looking Back and Looking Ahead

By Jim Sollecito

rock wallDo you ever feel like you’re between a rock and a hard place? Sometimes it feels like life’s problems prevent us from breaking through. But when we look around, we see others who have it a lot harder than us and seem to do amazingly well despite their circumstances. Recent hurricanes and wildfires have showcased a remarkably inspiring spirit despite the odds.

How can this be?

Sometimes it’s a matter of focus and dedication. Life is a journey. Decide where you want to be, hold tightly to a moral compass as your guide, then make the first move until you gain traction. Often uphill at first until we get through the bumps and bruises and begin to see a little progress. The important thing is to keep on trucking. You cannot steer a parked car.

Sometimes plants show the way. Sometimes not. I have been surprised at the tenacity of a simple seedling. And also disappointed that something I gave as much TLC as a pet just didn’t seem to respond. The mere faith associated with planting something in the ground is reason enough to be called an optimist. I knew from a very early age that I wanted to be part of that action. There was something about nestling a plant into soil that made me feel fully engaged. And now it’s part of who I am. And more importantly, the reason I get up every morning.

Yeah, I know, old age seems to come at a really bad time. Eventually we can no longer tell our bad knee from our good one. And as a concession to this we hire out tasks that we used to do ourselves. No biggie, really. Some of those chores, such as house-painting, I would really have preferred hiring out all along. I like the result but don’t enjoy the effort to attain it.

Winter’s gardening opportunities are limited to planning and pruning. It’s important to stay active but despite my name, I am just not a gym kind of guy. I sold my snowmobile and ATV. Now I own four pairs of snowshoes I wear for “forest bathing” during my down time. Every walk in the snowy woods is different. Each foray presents a discovery of some sort, big or small. There’s nothing like being surrounded by trees, listening to the sound of wind moving through them. An excellent opportunity to slow down and reflect on the best place for my next step. Literally and figuratively.

As we let go of one year and another is born, consider how you can navigate into an arena or project that will impact your own soul. Place one foot in front of the other and step out from between that rock and the hard place.

Jim Sollecito is the first lifetime senior certified landscape professional in NYS. He operates Sollecito Landscaping Nursery in Syracuse. Contact him at 468-1142 or