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So you want to find your true calling? Just ask the computer!

The Bright Side: Joe Bushue


The sun was beating down, and it was hot. Egg on the sidewalk kind of hot. I had just finished planting a large pine tree and was getting ready to shovel bark dust onto a slight bank covered with black plastic. I was sweating like a pack mule.

I had some high school kids helping me, and they were working fine despite the sweltering heat until someone said he heard on the radio that it was 102 degrees. Once they heard it was that hot, they dropped like flies.

Even though it was my landscaping company and I was the boss, as I wiped the stinging sweat from my eyes I thought maybe there was something else I should be doing with my life.

Though I generally enjoyed landscaping, and the feeling of creating something beautiful from nothing, I couldn’t help but wonder what my true aptitude was. Hopefully it would not be so reliant on the weather.

At the local college there was a computer test designed by sociologists and psychiatrists. By using a personality and background analysis, the two-hour test of hundreds of questions and statements could offer suggestions as to what your true aptitude might be. I took the test, and after answering all the questions, I pushed the final button and get the answer. I waited in anticipation to see if I was best suited to be a lawyer, teacher, scientist, maybe a captain of industry.

My personality part of the analysis showed that I was both creative and independent. So far, no surprises. It also said that I apparently enjoyed solving obstacles and challenges. OK. Maybe this test had been a good idea.

The final result showed that — based on results of this extensive physiological, computer-driven test — I had a strength in “creating, enhancing, developing and constructing environmentally stable personal areas, creating both pleasing surroundings, at the same time through the use of natural materials, making a personal artistic statement based on the spatial placement of objects in said environment.”

What?

After reading this several times, I realized what it basically meant was that I showed a strength for — landscaping. I had no idea I was performing so many tasks. I thought I was just laying turf and planting trees. At least now I knew that I was already doing what I supposedly had a strength for.

After that, when I shoveled bark dust, I realized I was preparing the canvas of an “environmentally stable personal space,” and in planting the pine tree I was making a “spatially relevant artistic statement.” I looked at what I did in a whole new light.

It was still really hot and I was sweating like a pack mule, but thanks to this scientifically based, computerized test, I was doing what I supposedly was meant to do.

And it was still damned hot.

Joe Bushue is a travel agent and lifelong Gresham resident who has been tolerating multiple sclerosis for 30-plus years. This column is a reprint from a few years ago. Reach him by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..