Think twice before looking for greener grass

Think twice before looking for greener grass By Bob Karolevitz I'm not so sure that the grass is any greener on the other side of the fence.

I've watched too many frustrated folks making major changes in their lives, only to discover that what they had wasn't so bad after all.

One of our farm neighbors was a perfect example of that. When retirement age came, he did what most everyone else did. He had his customary auction sale and then moved far away to the big city. At that time he only saw the negative side of farming.

Boredom soon set in, so he took a job as a maintenance man at a large hospital. The work wasn't bad; the money was good; and twice a day he enjoyed a coffee break in the employees' lounge.

Sharing the break-time with him and his menial co-workers were young doctors, tired and haggard from long hours under stressful conditions. Over and over he heard them say:

"I'd give anything to have a farm or a ranch some place so I could get away from it all."

That's when it finally dawned on him!

"Shucks," he said, "I already had what all those young guys were wishing for. Maybe I should have stayed where I was."

For each of them the grass looked greener on the other fellow's side of the fence.

Oh, there are lots of examples of people escaping the rat race and finding joy and satisfaction in a different calling. Unfortunately there are also those who don't luck out with a new job, a change of scenery or a new spouse.

I suppose I've got a little of that "grass is greener" syndrome, too. I enjoy writing the lighter stuff, but every now and then I get the urge to concentrate on more serious fiction, the kind that makes big bucks and gets turned into movies. I don't mean I should attempt to write the Great American Novel or go after a Pulitzer Prize; I'd just like to try my hand at something different.

The problem is that Phyllis, the avid reader, is my sounding board and chief critic. The few times I've tried to write a la Grisham or Hemingway, she's given me a thumbs down on my prose.

"You sound stilted," she says. "Your quotations are contrived, and you don't create suspense like Stephen King does."

She's right, of course, so I deep-six my futile fiction, lick my emotional wounds and go back to my column style, such as it is. I have to admit that I'll never be a John Steinbeck, Truman Capote, Norman Mailer or even an Erica Jung.

The grass may have looked greener on their side of the fence to me, but it's obvious that I should just be content with my own stand of Kentucky blue.

It could be that our farm neighbor had it right when he said: "Maybe I should have stayed where I was."

© 2000 Robert F. Karolevitz

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