What I'm Seeing Now


I Am Self Employed - Consider A Parable

I am self employed.  This means that I:

  • Work longer hours for myself than I would ever work for someone else.  MANY more hours.
  • Do very careful work.
  • Have to think about all aspects of my business and how each affects the others.
  • Wear more hats than I would working for someone else.
  • Do NOT get to set my "own hours" as so many who aren't self employed think I can.
  • Very, very much consider the client and the client's needs.
  • Do NOT get all the terrific tax write offs everyone thinks I get.  It ALL comes out of my pocket!
  • Am responsible for all the money and how and where it goes.
  • Always looking for ways to improve and offer a better product.

I could think of more, but I want to get to the parable.  Centuries ago, when I was a missionary in South America, we came up with many parables to teach the mountain Indigenous people, to whom I was called.  For them, Spanish was their second language, as it was mine.  They had to teach me their language - Quechua.  They came from a far different background than I and teaching them required creativity.  We all know who employed parables to great effect.  And we followed that Example.

A parable is a story, or poem, which is used to illustrate a moral or spiritual point, and reveal a hidden meaning.  It comes from the Latin word, parabola, which means comparison, discourse, or placing side-by-side.

We used lots of parables.  I published one in a different post, in January, entitled, "We Build To The Minimum Standard, Part 2."  Parables can be used in many different contexts!

When parables are employed, different people understand them on different levels and arrive at different interpretations.  One reason for this is background, but another is feeling.  Sometimes we simply feel the spirit of something and it touches us.

I am interested in what you see and understand and feel from this parable.  I will not comment as this might stultify your expression or understanding.  If I tell you what I see, or feel, well, it might influence what you see or feel.  The rest now is left to you...





There once were two trees who lived side by side. 

The one had a very comfortable life.  It lived in a greenhouse.  It was very well cared for by an elderly gardener.  The gardener knew just what to do to help the tree to grow and develop.  It was given plenty of water that included lots of nutrition.  It never wanted for water.  The temperatures in the greenhouse were controlled.  Windows were opened when it got too hot.  Heat was provided when it got too cold.  Shades were drawn when the sun grew too uncomfortable.  Its limbs were regularly pruned and it was beautiful.  It did not have to struggle for anything!  It lived in a pot and did not have to send down deep roots.  It never experienced strong winds so its limbs were weak.  Its bark was thin because it had plenty of water, had no enemies and was never too hot or cold.  The elderly gardener loved the tree.

The other tree's life was very hard.  It had to care for itself as there was no gardener to care for it.  It had to send down long roots to search for minerals and water.  That was sometimes hard to come by.  It experienced the very cold of winter and the very hot of summer.  Its limbs were never pruned and it had a somewhat disheveled appearance.  It developed bark that was necessarily thick and hard, needed to battle disease, insects and the elements.  All in all, it had learned to cope with all of that.  And it took care of itself, as best it could.  The tree was happy.

The two trees were close enough that when the windows were opened they could talk.  The tree in the greenhouse would often mock the other.  It would brag about its comfortable life and living conditions.

"Look at me!  My life is very easy.  I am well cared for.  I want for nothing.  My needs are all provided.  The gardener loves me.  I am happy.

And you - look at you!  I watch you struggle and strain for water.  I watch you fight against the heat and cold and strong winds.  You are besieged by insects and animals and birds.  You are never trimmed and some of your branches go this way and that way.  You never get a rest.  You should be in here where all is well!"

The other would answer.  "Yes, it is hard here.  Sometimes I envy you.  But it is not all so bad.  I have strong roots and a good foundation.  I send my limbs this way and that to get more light, and to protect against the strong winds.  True, my life is more difficult, but I am happy.  I am able to provide for myself."

Things went on like this for some time.  The one tree derided and scoffed and the other patiently went about insuring its survival.

Then, one day, the elderly gardener died.




Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560


Comment balloon 17 commentsJay Markanich • April 25 2009 06:36AM



A long post but a good one. Love the parable, and I won't spoil it for others but giving my interpretation. It is the classic struggle of the ages and our time. Well done. Would be happy to have you post on the group "Celebrating Free Enterprise." :)


Posted by Steve Hoffacker, Certified Aging In Place Specialist-Instructor (Steve Hoffacker LLC) almost 10 years ago

It sounds like one tree could be the person that has always had all of their needs taken care of by someone else and never learned to fend for themselves whereas the other tree is more like the self employed person that you referred to as yourself.   Good post.

Posted by 1 ~Judi & Don Barrett & Chassy Eastep - Integrity, BS Ed, Integrity Real Estate Services -IDABEL OK (Integrity Real Estate Services 118 SE AVE N, Idabel, OK 74745) almost 10 years ago

An intersting story. The green house tree was obviously dependent on the gardener and now its fate could be up in the air. But the other tree had it fate up in the air all the time too because of its exposure to the elements. So to me the difference is the green house tree was more dependent of people while the other took his chances. Also the green house tree should have been happy and not gloated to the other tree

Posted by Charlie Ragonesi, Homes - Big Canoe, Jasper, North Georgia Pros (AllMountainRealty.com) almost 10 years ago

Jay, Self sufficiency is something to be valued and encouraged. The story is a good reminder that we are better off when we can control our own destiny. Rich

Posted by Richard Iarossi, Crofton MD Real Estate, Annapolis MD Real Estate (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) almost 10 years ago

Ahhhh yes...people believe...though now they may be "getting it" that self employment means that you can "choose your own hours"..my answer to that is always..."You bet, all those you can stay awake." Freedom comes with a price...whatever freedom means to you...

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) almost 10 years ago

With everything that comes with being self employed you almost wonder why we all do it.. :)

Posted by Konnie Mac McCarthy, Broker/Owner - VA & MD "Time To Get A Move On!" (MacNificent Properties, LLC) almost 10 years ago

Never forget that whatever has a front also has a back:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 10 years ago


I have been self-employed almost all of my adult life. When I had a radio station in some ways it was easier, other ways harder. When you are the only employee, the work you know you need to do never stops. In radio I had many employees, but more responsibility and debts too.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) almost 10 years ago

I have been one of those trees and I believe it has made all the difference in the direction of my life, for which I am grateful. That said, the biggest drawback for me as an independent contractor who works from home is always being at the office. Whether it's 3 a.m., 11 p.m. or 10 a.m., I am "at" the office, even when I don't want to be.

Posted by Lanna Broyles, freelance editor and writer almost 10 years ago

Jay, I've retired twice now, but for the last 20 years I have been self employed and, although, difficult at times I wouldn't have it any other way.  I know both sides of the coin.  Those that think the ones that own their own business have it made would never survive owning their own business.

Posted by Jack Gilleland (Home Inspection and Investor Services, Clayton) almost 10 years ago


Thanks for including your post here on "Celebrating Free Enterprise." I have featured it. Great job! :)


Posted by Steve Hoffacker, Certified Aging In Place Specialist-Instructor (Steve Hoffacker LLC) almost 10 years ago


I hear that you are going to a ball game with Chuckie Bee. Make him wear something other than his soccer outfit, please. The knobby knees will leave you cold.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) almost 10 years ago

Hey Steve - I am going out there May 14-17 and taking the kids to a game.  I have not seen them in 3 years and did not want to invite too many of my "friends" out there to attend the game.  It might seem like my kids are not the reason I am there!  I will catch up with you another time. It is kind of a short visit, so one invitee is probably enough.

I notice that Bellingham is a distance from Seattle.  Do you ever get into that town?  How about for a game with a stranger you kind of know?  And, of course, you can bring the squirrels.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 10 years ago

Hey Jay, when I was back in Connecticut I ran into Croakster's dad----I think he was a little stoned.

Croakster's dad

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 10 years ago

A very stern looking fellow!  You sure he's related to Croakster?  Maybe Croakster was adopted, as he seems to be of such a different personality and so very happy...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 10 years ago

Excellent parable... and if there was a storm, the outside tree was much better able to withstand the wind and the fury...

Posted by Lane Bailey, Realtor & Car Guy (Century 21 Results Realty) over 9 years ago

Lane - thanks for stopping by!  I think there is much that can be derived from the parable.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

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