second best time

The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago.

The second best time is now. 

That is written on a piece of paper that resides in various places on my desk, depending on the time of day and my activity level.  There is a coffee stain on the piece of paper and the ink has run, but I can still read the words written there.

I read it often. I think of it often. It is attributed to “Chinese Proverb.” I don’t know where I might have read it, but I did write it down. Never doubt the power of the anonymous Chinese proverb writer.

There are so many ways 20 years ago was better than today. There are so many ways now is the right time. There are so many ways what didn’t happen 20 years ago can be rectified today. There are so many ways what happened 20 years ago can be enhanced now. Just because it didn’t happen 20 years ago doesn’t mean it can’t happen now.

Regrets, I’ve had a few. Yeah, and triumphs too. And what I didn’t do 20 years ago still haunts me today. I am correcting that. Doing now what didn’t seem possible then. Doing now what I should have, could have done then, but didn’t. Not setting the impossible as the standard. Not waiting for the ideal, accepting the less than perfect, no longer putting off until some unknown golden, bell ringing, confetti falling moment.

Whatever kept me from planting that tree or doing that thing or being that person twenty years ago no longer matters. Whatever barrier or obstacle or belief or advice or conviction or fear or threat or laziness or ignorance that was can be overcome now. Second best will always be better than not at all.