Jay, my 19 year old son, is baaaaaaaaack. He spent two months up in northern Ontario, Canada, planting trees for a reforestation company ... the best and worst of times ... tears, laughter, learning to make hemp and bead jewellery, playing guitar, BIG food, and best of all, living in a tent in "tent city".

He returned home a week ago ... an approximate 19 hour bus ride ... with his gear, smelly clothes, guitar, full beard, long hair, hemp jewellery, and a smile on his face.

He experienced a snowstorm for four days when he first arrived, snowflakes on June 24th (his team was able to work but a team further north had whiteout conditions ... in late June ... even in Canada, you have to be very, very north for that!), and is very fit from his 10+ hour days of planting.

He thought he'd be planting bare fields (ok, perhaps this is why some companies refuse to hire rookies!). Instead, the workers climbed over logs and did the best they could to plant in the grid. He was proud that his boots kept his feet dry, until the day he had to plant on high spots in knee high water.

He didn't need the bear safety training personally ... the bears near his tent were shoo'd away by a crew boss who told Jay to stay in his tent!

The days were exhausting but he found himself staring at the tent ceiling, or out the flap, at the gorgeous, clear, starry night sky. He encouraged himself to go to sleep by thinking about how being too tired slows down the planting. When you are being paid 8 cents per tree, speed and dexterity count.

He is a "slow" planter, averaging 1,000 trees per day once he got into the swing of it. It wasn't about riches. He plans to do it again.

Driving four hours from one camp to the nearest town to do laundry on his day off and being transported in school buses that tended to break down regularly brings "stories" to share. The day that the bus wasn't able to shift out of second gear is a highlight ... 8 p.m. and a busload of hungry planters were not impressed by the sloooooow ride back to camp.

He bartered in thrift shops and loved getting his 50 cent shirt and a leather jacket for $1. He bartered in stores, getting sandals that were already on sale, at a 50% discount, for $5 instead of the sale price of $8. He forgot how "odouriferous" they really were until people in stores would all stop and stare, and move away. Three showers in six weeks does NOT make clean folk want to talk to you but the planters know that the black flies and other flitting critters can find you much more easily when you are freshly clean!

Jay describes this as a life changing experience. He is less irritated, less quickly, by life's glitches. As he told me, he had to trust his fellow planters with his life ... if someone kept food in their tent, it could attract the bears, for example. He also learned that you don't have to like everyone that you have to spend your days with but you certainly can get along. He noticed that the guys, when frustrated, threw things and swore very loudly while the girls "handled it differently".

His next adventure ... after spending his first year in college in Toronto, and finding that large city life is NOT for him (as he said, "Mom, I thought I was sophisticated but I'm a HICK."), he is heading off for year two of business studies to a college in British Columbia, where he'll be close to the mountains and the population is only 19,000.

As his mom, I've tried to encourage him to follow his heart and integrate his passions into daily life ... to enjoy the journey now, in this moment. I know that doing so magnetizes the people, resources, and collaborations that make life fulfilling and rich.

I don't agree with everything that he chooses but he has always been independent yet very appreciative. He can seem so wise and then do something that makes me scratch my head in disbelief. He makes me laugh often and he accepts responsibility for his choices. What more could a Mom ask for?

I do know that he is really home ... my car often ISN'T, he leave things in his wake (bags, clothes, dirty dishes, water bottles, etc.), the bathroom sink is full of beard trimmings, and I had to pick him up last night when his friend's car broke down. YES, Jay is home!

Author's Bio: 

Kimberley Simon guides you in creating the daily discipline of being ZONEfull. She'll give you the tools to leave the old at the door and enter into the freshness of the newfound moment. Whether she is coaching you through the foundations of Perpetual Sync', or establishing an outline for the details of your message that will form part of your web site, she is lovingly guiding you into the depths of your ZONE full self!