Sure, it’s good to be a veteran, expert, master, pro. But mastery in a profession like interpreting is a journey, not a destination. I’ve been interpreting for 21 years, yet I feel green. Why? Because I’m branching out. I’m trying new ways, new skills, new settings. I’m trying new signs with my hands, face, and body; new words and intonations with my voice. It is often awkward!
When trees branch out, they sprout new leaves. These light green leaves are more vulnerable than the waxy dark ones. Yet their vulnerability is their strength. They’re open to the sun, air, and rain. They keep the tree alive.
Branching out is not the only act that keeps a tree alive. Fires blaze through forests, breaking branches, cracking pinecones, thinning woods so trees can see the light. Outside the forest, gardeners prune dead branches–and even sometimes living ones that are growing wrong. The fire doesn’t say, “I’m going to destroy that tree!” And the gardener takes no joy in cutting live growth. The fire just is and the gardener is, as Shakespeare said, “Cruel only to be kind.”
These internal and external forces make us stronger. So branch out! Go to workshops and conferences, keep learning and trying new things. Only you can do that for yourself. And when it feels like you’re on fire and a part of you is being cut away— that’s when life is doing for you what you can’t do for yourself. Accept the fire of life. Seek gardeners and ask them to “prune” you. Branch out and reach out! It’s the only way to thrive.