The Best Time to Plant a Tree was 20 Years Ago. The Second-best Time is Now!

Do you think it’s now too late to switch streams or take up a profession you always wanted to?

Do you think that if you have failed in the past success is something you are not destined for?

Do you think you do not deserve to live the life of abundance that 5% of the world’s population has been living?

If the answer to the above questions is yes, it’s time to take a pause and reflect upon yourself.

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.” The first part of this Chinese proverb means what you planted earlier is the result that you are reaping today. What you are today is because of your mindset and actions that you have sowed so far. However, there is a piece of good news in the second part of this proverb “The second-best time is now.” It means ‘it’s never too late’ to alter the quality of seeds you have been planting. It means, right here, right now, you have the opportunity to live the life you have been yearning for. It’s never too late. All you need to do is ‘ask for it’!

Once there was a king who was quite courteous to his people, but he was ill-famed for his conduct towards lawbreakers. Upon being proven guilty, the offender would be taken to a big dark room. The king would raise a red handkerchief, and the executioner would pull the lever at the drop of the handkerchief.

However, there was an unusual practice that the king followed before dropping that handkerchief. He would ask the convict pointing at a big rusty black door, “Would you like to see what’s behind that black door? If yes, I can let you go off the rope.” The culprit would look at the big black rusted door shackled with bulky chains and fat iron rods fastened to it, and wonder, “The king cannot let me go off so easily. There surely must be some gang of starving lions or an army of zombies waiting behind that door. They will rip every single ounce of flesh from my body until I cease to breathe. It’s better to die by the rope.”

The king would ask the same question, and every violator would gaze at the door and would instead opt to be hung.

One day, a thief, after being found guilty, gets escorted to the same room by the armed guards. The executioner, after testing the pulleys neckties the rope of death and waits for the king to tip-off the execution. The king holds the red handkerchief in his hand and asks the same question, “Would you like to see what’s behind that black door?” The thief, like other felons, chooses to be hung till death.

But the moment the king is about to drop the handkerchief, the thief says, “Dear Dominus, now that I have chosen to be hung to my death, I have one last wish.” The king gestures him to utter his wish. The thief, with spiraled curiosity in his eyes, says, “What’s behind that black door?”

The king smiles and answers, “Freedom! But you never asked for it,” and the handkerchief kisses the ground.

Similarly, we continue living a caged life, thinking it’s too late, or we are too old to fulfill our dreams and then one day take an exit from this world. We never draw the courage to ask for the black door. Just because it’s black and rusted doesn’t mean it’s dangerous. In other words, it is our past that has been driving our present and also governs our future. We have surrendered the reins of our life to past failures and patterns. And just like a child who accidentally burns his hand on a kitchen stove dreads fire, we are now reluctant even to take the shot.

85% of people worldwide, according to a Gallup poll dislike their jobs. 94% of people, according to other research, are “not engaged” in their work leading to stress, clinical burnout, and other relationship challenges.

We’re all swimming in this massive ocean of human beliefs, modalities, rules, ideas, and practices. These subjective realities of when we should eat, when we should sit, when we should dress up, when we should love, when we should get our first home, and when we should get a 9-5 job are silently dictating our lives. And, as a result of living in this world of shoulds, we end up living at a mere 40-50% of our true selves, thinking it to be our 100, when in reality, we are capable of much much more.

There have been many people who got a wakeup call at the later stage of life, and they did answer that call. Or else, we would not have been inspired by people like Charles Darwin, Harland Sanders; better known as Colonel Sanders, Henry Ford, Samuel L. Jackson, J.K. Rowling, Rodney Dangerfield, Tommy Lee Jones, Oprah Winfrey, Sylvester Stallone, Susan Boyle and many more. These are people who became successful in their 30s, 40s, and even 60s.

So, get out of your ‘too late’ syndrome and show the world that even you can! Reinvent yourself! And the best time to act is now!

If being in your 40s, you think you are too old to build 6-pack abs, think again. If being in the 50s, you think you are too old to step on the dance floor, think again. If being in the 60s, you think you are too old to run your own startup, think again. Life only offers opportunities to those who dare rather than those who keep brooding over their past. Do not play the victim’s card, play the go-getter’s card.

So, what is your next dare?

Get up and take the shot. “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

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