This morning halfway through my walk I stopped at the local Veterans' Memorial and talked with Larry and Lecil. They have been friends since childhood and now are retired from underground mining. They had great stories to tell and some good advice to share. Their advice had to do with work and what they considered a dying work ethic.
For Larry and Lecil life was hard as they were growing up. Their parents worked at a job all day and in the field all afternoon and every weekend just to scratch out a living. They had it a little better than their parents. UMWA made certain that miners were taken care of. They gardened in the afternoons and on weekends to supplement their diet with fresh vegetables and to put some pack for the winter. Store-bought stuff just isn't as good. What they see today in their children's generation (and I am the same age as their children) is laziness. We have a good paying job, many of us sit at desks, then we go home to climate controlled houses and watch TV, we rarely go outside, we pay someone to tend our yards, we buy market fresh vegetable at the store or from a weather-beaten wearied farmer on the side of the road. Larry and Lecil's concern is about what we will do if: What will our generation do if the economy continues to slide? Do we have the skills or the desire to labor for our needs and not our desires? They shared some advice with me that I am taking to heart:
1. "Work the land." Grow a garden, not just peas to attract the deer, but vegetables for your family.
2. "Don't be idle." When you get home from your job, keep working, inside and outside the house.
3. "Find something constructive to do." They are planning to replace the clutch on Larry's tractor this weekend.
4. "If you stop working you die early." When you retire, don't sit around, get busy. Their plan for today was to mow the grass, trim the landscaping, and weed-eat around the Memorial. They also planned along with other retiree's to poor concrete, and set up a miniature (8 ft tall) Statue of Liberty on a five foot pedestal next to the Memorial.
5. "Teach your children to think for themselves." Do not do for them what they can do for themselves.
Lots to think about . . .