As a young child of not quite 5 years, my family moved from California back to Oklahoma. We could be referred to as “reverse Okies.” My parents had started out in Oklahoma, moving to California for a few years before returning to their beloved Oklahoma homeland.
We lived in a small farm in Vera, north of Tulsa. Vera was a delightful place to live. The school was small enough so everybody knew everybody. It was a lovely example of all that is fine about small towns.
We kids loved the wide open spaces. My older brother helped with the farm work. My big sister became queen of the kitchen, relieving my mother to work in the garden she loved so much. My mother said gardening was great since you always had extra to share.
Living in tha household where everyone was busy made me want to be helpful. So I was told to pick up kindling each day for the wood stove.
One afternoon I was especially proud of myself as I loaded up both arms to the brim. Then as I struggled to get it all back into the house, I was shocked to hear criticism instead of bragging for my efforts. (I had been so sure everyone would be impressed with my amazing load!) I learned along the way to keep my ears and heart open since life’s lessons could come from, not just our mentors, but also from our nemeses!
My daddy said, “You’ve got yourself a Lazy Man’s Load.” Since he didn’t explain, the negative connotation I was hearing made me ask my siblings for more information. They explained how too big a load made it hard to carry, walk, and set it down whereas a couple of smaller loads would be far easier to handle.
Although much of my relationship with my daddy was flawed with his own history and the abuse which came with it, I found this piece of advice to be helpful throughout my life. It is a good example of how we can learn from anyone–whether we have full respect for them or not.
In recent decades, this same piece of wisdom is called, “Work smart, not hard.” But I’ll always think of it as avoiding that Lazy Man’s Load, ha.
Given the work ethic which pervades farm life, I developed a strong sense of hard work. However, at certain moments I’ve remembered to temper that with this bit of advice I learned the hard way as a young child.
We who have had such an intense commitment to work could surely benefit by sometimes going for efficiency as well as quantity. With this background, I never wanted to identify with the awful word lazy so that lesson has always hung around in the tender part of my soul.
There will always be a need for hard work, as per the quote at the bottom of this blog. Truth be known, it is the backbone of many human achievements, even in our daily lives. Yet directed focus and efficiency of time and effort do well to figure into the equation of our work efforts.
It took years, but I did learn to season work with play, conversation with song, and the noise of daily life with quiet gratitude.
Copyright 2013 by Hildra Tague. Obtain permission for use online or in print.
Forbes Thought Of The Day
“ No fine work can be done without concentration and self-sacrifice and toil and doubt. ”
— Max Beerbohm