Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Love What You Do

This morning I got a call from my cousin Eric. I haven't talked to him since our Grandpa died several years ago. I was a bit nervous when I saw the missed call. I knew his wife was pregnant, but it was not time for the baby yet. Was something wrong? Was there a death in the family? I called back and was relieved to find that everything was OK. He just wanted to say we should have called when we came to town last weekend. He wanted to see us and the baby. So I promised to call next time, and we said our good byes.

As you grow older you often drift apart from friends and family. Eric and I were best friends as children. Our Dad's were brothers and often worked together on the farm. That led to plenty of adventure for me and Eric. There are plenty of ways for two boys to entertain themselves on a farm. Our Grandpa Bob was a huge pack rat. He was so bad that the term should be renamed for him. Pack Rat should be replaced by Bob Rat or Pack Bob. I personally like Bob Rat. Anyway, Eric and I spent many a day digging through his junk. We found all sorts of "toys". When we didn't find anything interesting we would use the junk to make our own toys. I remember one time we made a barge out of some wood and metal cans so we could float it on the duck pond.

This post is not all about reminiscing. Eric has a lesson to teach us today. He was a smart guy. He was attending Arkansas State University on a scholarship. Then one day he decided to come home. He was plenty smart to graduate from college and do whatever he wanted, but what he wanted did not require a college education.

All Eric ever wanted to do was farm. It's funny how two kids from the same background can go such opposite directions. We had the exact same beginnings on the farm. Circumstances in our life led us opposite directions. I only wanted to leave home and do something else. All he wanted was to stay home with what he knew.

When we were kids we both had extensive tractor collections. I am talking about the big metal replicas from John Deere and International. We both pretended to farm our homes with these miniature implements. I knew how to prepare the ground, plant the crop, and bring in the harvest. Eric, however, took this a bit farther. He knew the exact model of every tractor. He had a plan for crop rotation and set aside ground on his imaginary farm. He knew every detail of farming. This was his life's ambition.

So when he quit school to go home and farm no one should have been surprised. Actually he went home to be a farm hand which is a much lower position than farmer. He is back working on the family farm now, but there will be no riches in his future. I bet 99% of America would say Eric did a dumb thing. They would say that he'll never make any money on a small farm. He should have stayed in school.

I disagree. Eric was brave enough to choose what made him happy. He was smart enough to know that no amount of money in the world can bring about happiness. Happiness is found in doing something you love every single day. I hope that Braden can learn a lesson from his cousin. I want him to find the thing that makes him happy and go for it. I will definitely encourage him to follow whatever ambitions he has. Money doesn't matter. Fame doesn't matter. Position doesn't matter. Braden's happiness is all that matters.

15 comments:

Russ said...

I would contend that he could have used his education in the farming industry and still been happy. However, if this is what makes him happy, rock on!

Daddy Files said...

While I value an education and my first inclination is that he could've finished school and still been a farmer, I like this post a lot.

Six years ago I quit the newspaper business and went to work in a stainless steel warehouse with my dad. I did inside sales. My salary was great and I was being groomed for upper management. In 10 years I would've been at six figures. That job allowed me to buy a house and get married.

And I quit as soon as I could.

I took a RIDICULOUS cut in pay and went back to being a journalist. I will never make any money, but I've stopped fighting it. I'm doing what I'm good at and what I enjoy. It's made things difficult, but I was MISERABLE when I was doing sales. Now, I'm happy and we get by with some belt tightening.

You gotta do what you gotta do.

Otter Thomas said...

@Russ and Daddy Files: You guys called my oversight. Yes an education helps in every walk of life. So you are both right, but some people just aren't cut out for school and it makes them miserable.

Un-Hawthorne-ed said...

Nicely written, had a very Twain-esque feel in all the right ways. Certainly threw me headfirst into the way-back machine.

surprised mom said...

Education is a wonderful thing, but only if it allows you to do what you need to do. Good for Eric for making a life decision that makes him happy. It takes guts. Daddy Files - I was a journalist. Ridiculous is what every journalist gets paid. But good for you for not fighting the inevitable.

Swoozie said...

I love this post! I am of the 1% that would say "Eric did a smart thing!" Education is great, fine and wonderful but enjoying what you do, being content with your decisions and being able to go to sleep each night with a smile on your face is one heck of a way to live your life as well!

WeaselMomma said...

Eric sounds smarter than most

New Dad Blog said...

Its hard to put a price on happiness. Sure I don't love doing the 9-5 thing, but what I lack in fulfillment here I get from the ability have my wife stay at home.

Kudos to eric though, doing what you enjoy is awesome.

NukeDad said...

Eric sounds like a wise man. While an education is certainly helpful and can give you an advantage, most people forget that education is on going; you can always learn something new. And you don't have to go to college to learn it. That's the lesson that most don't learn.

PJ Mullen said...

Not dumb at all, while some will argue that a college education could help him in his chosen profession to which I would agree, it isn't for everyone and you have to be happy in life. You only get one ride on this big old rock, you have to make the best of it. And good for you for recognizing this and being ready to encourage Braden to follow his passions. Nice post.

Tom said...

I would suggest that Eric is choosing fulfillment over obligation. He's doing what he loves, which makes the work a joy. I would love to be in that position, as would most, I think.

Steely Dad said...

Hear hear to that! First, you're absolutely right. You should always do what you love not what will make you rich. Live simply and keep your expenses to a minimum that way you're never stuck. I have so many friends who made a ton of dough, bough a bunch of crap and now they're stuck in jobs they hate because they have to pay for their possessions. Your cousin is a smart guy but not because he had a scholarship; he's making his own living without being dependent on a boss. Just look at how many college students, who've spent on average between $250K-$300 for their degree and are unemployed. How will they pay down that debt? Your cousin is making a living. Who's the dumb ass now? This is a topic I plan to discuss on my blog as well! Good job!

Super Mega Dad said...

Otter, my man, that was a great post. I couldn't have said it any better myself. Education isn't everything. He sounds like he knew what he wanted in life and went for it.

Mike said...

How did such a young guy get to be so wise? Happiness is not found in a paycheck? Who would have thought? Great post, well written. Thanks....

seashore subjects said...

Stopping by from weaselville, thanks for visiting my blog.

Love the idea of happiness over money!