When Opportunity Knocks, Shake A Tree


Last year while touring a walnut orchard, I had the opportunity to shake things up a bit. Not figuratively, but literally by operating a big ol’ piece of mechanical harvesting equipment used to extract walnuts from the trees. It was a hoot to command the controls, hit the gas and watch it rain walnuts.

Only a couple of us volunteered for tree-shaking duty and it made me wonder why the rest of the group didn’t dive in. Perhaps they tour walnut orchards on a regular basis, or maybe they presumed they’d get the chance later, or it’s possible the hydraulic machinery intimidated them. Whatever the reason, I knew that for me this opportunity would most likely never come around again. So I took it.

The incident got me thinking about how many of life’s experiences — big or small — I’ve let fall by the wayside because the timing wasn’t just right or I lacked the courage or initiative to take the first step. How many things have I put on hold and then just missed?

A couple of years back I was going to join a recreational indoor women’s volleyball team just for fun, but it never happened. Then there was the charity 5K that fell through the cracks because I couldn’t get any friends to commit. And although there have been a least a dozen beachfront vacations, I’ve never set foot on a surfboard. Not that I’d actually be able to carve a wave, but I’ve got pretty good balance and it would have been fun to at least take a crack at it. But fear of failure or looking stupid, or ending up with my swimsuit bottoms down around my ankles, kept me from even trying.

It’s not too late for everything, but after two knee surgeries those surfing maneuvers are definitely out of the question and I will never experience the thrill of riding a wave.

Hopefully, you’ll never suffer any injuries, but you never know what surprises life has in store for you. Family and work obligations take priority, injuries sideline us, and the next thing you know another five years has passed by and you never did get around to running that half marathon.

Make 2015 the year you run that race, give yoga a try, or revisit your childhood dreams and take ballet. Do it now before the class schedules change or work demands a ton of overtime. Don’t just do it for the exercise; do it for the hell of it. Maybe you’ll meet a new friend, or the love of your life; at the very least you will have put another notch on that bedpost of life called experience.

What’s your once in a lifetime tree-shaking experience? —Karen

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  1. The walnut tree shaking sounds so fun!!! Sorry about your injuries. I know 2015 will be better!
    I set a huge goal for myself in 2015 of running my first Half Marathon!

  2. Mary Ellen Sisia says:

    For years I always wanted to try rowing – such a beautiful, graceful motion on the water. So a few years ago I signed up for lessons, and got out on the water. It’s really a lot of work, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, until I was put in a boat with mostly experienced male rowers, and I couldn’t hold my own with them.
    I never went back, but I’m glad I did it, and I always smile when I see people on the boats. Sometimes you just have to try things to see if they’re right for you.