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.