Is there really such a thing as Easy Street?

I always imagined that Easy Street was this place…

where faucets never dripped, lawns never got weeds, the houses never required painting, all the neighbors got along and frequently had BBQ’s, and pets never defecated. Well, it just so happens that one time I did actually find myself on Easy Street.

It was a hot and steamy July day in a small town in South Carolina. This was many, many years ago (15?20?) and I was inventorying trees* on the city’s rights of way. As a consulting Arborist/Forester, it is something I have spent a lot of time doing over the last 30 years. Now, as the case,  “hot” and “steamy” prior to July is not necessary when talking about the southeastern U.S., but this particular day one seemed worse than most.

I had a friend helping and it was getting late; we were trying to finish all the streets in this one neighborhood before calling it a day. As we rounded the corner from one street to the next, low and behold, there was only one street left. As we approached this last street, we both saw the street sign at the same time; we turned towards each other and gave each other a high-five.

We made it. Except …

Talk about two jubilant people. The day was hot and it had been long, but at last we had finally made it to, you guessed it, “Easy Street.”

How appropriate for the last street of the day. There were houses with no trees on one side and the other side of the street there were no houses at all. I almost shouted “and it’s a for real easy street! We will knock this out in no time.” (I realize that as an arborist, I shouldn’t show such excitement about a street with no trees, but the heat had been working on me). As we got about half-way down the block, we realized that although the other side of the street didn’t have any houses, it had lots of trees on the rights of way. The trees were hidden by a thick mass (a small jungle actually) of smaller vegetation such as briars, poison ivy and lord-only-knows what else. By the time we had finished fighting with the jungle, it was dark, and we looked as if we had been in a fight with a mountain lion. Needless to say, our time on Easy Street turned out to be anything but! However, it was the feeling of success at achieving what we had set out to do that made being on Easy Street worthwhile.

Where is your Easy Street.

1) Believe: First, you have to believe that Easy Street really exists which means changing your mind set and stop ascribing to thoughts such as:

  • No pain, no gain
  • You have to work hard to get to the top
  • You have to pay your dues
  • If you want to succeed, you have to give blood, sweat, and tears
  • Only the strong survive

Small log cabin in mountains2) What does your Easy Street look like?

Are there big houses or small cabins?

  • Is your house the only house or are there many?
  • Are there trees, or maybe a pasture or rows of crops?
  • Do you have street parties or is there a quiet place you can sit and read in silence?

Oddly enough, in reflection, I think that the Easy Street that I was on that hot July day so many years ago in South Carolina was my Easy Street!

Here’s what I have since discovered: 

  • The open side of the street with no trees: this represented the opportunities that were and are available to me. This showed me how to reflect on my circumstances.
  • The other side of the street had plenty of trees, and as an arborist, they represent my livelihood and the many gifts and blessings I currently have.
  • The briar patches: The great humbling factor. They build strength and remind us to be thankful of the non-briar patches we have in our lives.

We all have a place that could be an Easy Street. Maybe it’s a house, maybe an apartment. How about a log cabin or even a Yurt? Whatever it is, if you are easier on yourself – and you look at the opportunities, solutions and character-building situations that abound, you may find that that place you believe in can be reachableIt just all depends on what your Easy Street looks like to you. Just know it exists, and on it, happiness abounds. Hope to see ya there soon!

Take Action:

Take a sheet of paper and write down or use pictures or symbols of what your Easy Street looks like. A fun exercise is to get a big pad of large drawing paper and tape it to the wall. Don’t get frustrated. Remember this is a game, a fun game at that. As your life experiences change, and this happens daily whether you realize it or not, your Easy Street will change as well.

*Tree InventoryWalking the streets and collecting information on trees growing on the city’s rights of way. This generally extends 10 – 20 feet beyond the pavement. Information collected includes the type (species) of tree, diameter, height, condition, and maintenance needs such as pruning. In addition to streets it is often done on other city property as well such as parks and public buildings such as libraries and City Hall.

I think it is so sad. And here’s why.

If given the chance, would you rather be given a million dollars or would you rather earn a million dollars?

Several months ago, I was listening to a local radio station and the two DJ’s were discussing a survey that asked people that question. The overwhelming majority of people said that they would rather be given a million dollars than earn a million dollars.

I think that is a sad state of mind. Every day, for most of us, our self-esteem or feeling of self-worth is under assault. We think we’re: too fat, too skinny, not fast enough, not strong enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough, not gifted enough, the list goes on and on. 

True accomplishments

The only thing that saves us from the onslaught of self-doubt is our list of accomplishments in life. I don’t want to get side-tracked on what we define as accomplishments because I can assure you that “true” accomplishments vary quite drastically from “societal approved” accomplishments.

Personally, I think it’s important to keep in mind all the little things we do in life, and maybe, just maybe, they aren’t as little as we may think. Your success in life – I define success as living a happy purposeful life – depends in large part on how we feel about ourselves. [Note: this is dependent upon how we feel about ourselves and not how we perceive others feel about us.]

Therefore, it is often the small victories that we achieve in life that help us suppress these negative waves of “I’m not good enough.”

We often hear and say how much better we feel when we lose 10 pounds, or how much better we feel once we get back in shape … or how much better we feel because we have a clean house. Yes, it is true that these things can make us feel better physically, but I think that the true “feeling better” stems from the victory we scored by forcing ourselves to accomplish these feats. 

Never underestimate the power of feeling good about yourself! 

Remember, you are your greatest asset. Now go earn that million dollars! – if that’s really important to you. If not, quit wishing someone would give it to you! And that’s worth a lot. 

Soulful Quote:  “Self-esteem is the reputation we acquire with ourselves” – Nathaniel Branden 

[Note the word acquire (the small victories) and not give.]

Song: “Greatest Love of All,” by Whitney Houston

Game Exercise/Life Changer: Answer the question for yourself and check your Self Reliance gauge!