The best Chinese proverb I know

Wise chinese man

Based on the Google image search, if you are wise and from China, it is your prerogative to have a beard…


I really like quotes of wise things people have said. They make me think, re-evaluate what I’m doing with my life and determine if I need to change some of the the ways I act.

At least I like to believe that’s what they do. In all honesty, I probably read the quote, my heart swells in agreement, I decide that my life from now on will change, and then I forget what I just read.

However, there is one Chinese proverb which has stuck in my mind, that’s not to say I’ve put it into practice just yet but it is something I am constantly reminded of. So here it is:

The best time to plant a tree was 10 years ago, the second best time is now.

Let me say that again for it to really sink in:

The best time to plant a tree was 10 years ago, the second best time is now.

As much as this appears to be a flippant piece of horticultural know-how, it’s much deeper than first impressions. You may already know the meaning (other than tree-planting advice) but let me lay it out for you.

Remember all those things you wish you’d done a while ago, or the things you wish you could do now? For instance, I wish I knew how to play the piano and I’m sad that I didn’t learn it as a kid. Maybe for you it’s learning a different language, going inter-railing, going skiing, making new friends or starting a business.


Maybe in a year you’ll be able to do this


We can spend so long regretting the things we didn’t do 5, 10, 15, 20 years ago that we forget we can do them now.

I could start learning the piano, you could pick up Italian, we can all go on a voyage of self-improvement. Stop complaining that you never got around to doing these things in the past and start doing them now.

There are so many opportunities for us in this world and we often think we’ve missed them all because our past-self was too lazy. This is your opportunity to show your past self what you can do. Don’t mess it up.

I was once told, “you more often than not regret the things you don’t do rather than those you do” and I believe many of us can get into this mindset. I’ve always wanted to go to Glastonbury but I’ve never made that known to my friends. I thought I would grow old and my Glastonbury dream would die, that I would never go to this huge music festival.



I mentioned this want to a friend, it turns out they also wanted to go, two other friends were keen and we bought tickets. 2015 is Glastonbury year.

Get out and do the thing you wanted to do 10 years ago. Granted, it would have been better to do it a decade prior but your life is not over. The second best time is now.