Sunday, September 6, 2009

Labor Day Thought: Work ain't work if you're having fun

I was raised on a farm where my daddy raised tobacco, cotton and the whole roster of produce crops, as well as chickens and hogs. The tobacco and cotton were cash crops, the rest we ate.

I thought about my daddy as Labor Day approaches and the lessons he tried (and sometimes failed) to teach his middle son, who was and is pretty lazy when it comes to manual labor. The chief one is: it ain't work if you're having fun. I not only didn't love farming, I hated it. Cutting okra pods in the hot sun in July was the worst. That stuff seemed to grow right before your eyes and just walking down the rows made me itch. Even cropping tobacco or picking cotton all day in the hot sun wasn't as bad as cutting okra. I still won't eat okra today, not fried, not boiled, not any kinda way.

I remember promising the Good Lord when I was about 10 that if He would let me grow up and get off that farm, I wouldn't never be no dirt farmer. I kept my end of the deal and God kept His. To this day, I've survived 62 years without ever having any desire to plant stuff and see it grow.

But daddy did teach me lots of stuff that "took." He taught me how to hunt and fish, both of which do require quite a bit of work ever since Adam and Eve got kicked out of the garden and the critters of creation stopped coming when Adam called. You can't toss a hook in the water and call out "Hey you! Yeah, you, the big bass, come over here and bite my hook!" And you can't climb a tree stand and holler out, "Hey you! Yeah, you, the big buck with the nice rack. Step out into the open and hold still for a minute while I line up my sights." Hunting and fishing don't work that way. But if it did, that would take all the fun and challenge out of it anyway.

That's the way life is, a challenge, and I have learned in my many years that you can enjoy work, but the key to it (duh!) is finding work you enjoy. I've worked as a photojournalist for newspapers, a web designer for myself and for small businesses, a community college teacher, a technical writer/photographer for industry and now as a gun store salesman and webpage specialist, using the writing, photography and web design skills I've developed in a life of work. This last job is the best of all the ones I've had in a long career since I graduated from college in 1975 because it's not only using all my skills, it's more fun than anything I've ever done. When you're a gun nut like I've been all my life, a job in a gun store is the best there is. Plus the gun store has supported me in becoming an NRA Basic Pistol instructor and a N.C. Concealed Carry Handgun instructor, so I can add teaching those skills and knowledge as well.

And something else I've learned in my many years of labor. Unemployment is no fun at all. Been there, done that and didn't care for it. I can honestly say it's a good day on a Monday just as much as a Friday. Life without labor would really be no fun at all. But it sure helps to love what you're laboring at and on this Labor Day, I'm the most grateful guy in the universe for my job.

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