Sunday, June 17, 2012

Wisdom from my Dad

Dads don't show very well in the entertainment media of late. Father figures like Robert Young of Father Knows Best, Ben Cartwright of Bonanza and even Dr. Cliff Huxtable of The Cosby Show have been replaced by a generation of TV dads whose purpose seems to be adding comic relief as a convenient foil for a strong female lead. Books like S--t My Dad Says and its spin-off TV Show, Stuff My Dad Says, also portray Dad as an illogical and inconsistent buffoon.

Let me state that my dad was my first and greatest hero.  Though neither rich nor educated past high school when it came to the business of living and making a life, Dad remains one of the wisest men I have ever known.

Dad was a farmer. His wisdom was the wisdom of the farm, things obvious to those who work the land but elusive to those who didn't.

I learned from Dad that there is a time to do everything and time doesn't wait for you.  You must act within it. There is a season for planting and a season to harvest.  Plant too early or late and your yield will be less.  Harvest too early or late and your yield will be limited and the quality of your product poor. "To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven."  Miss that time and miss out.

In a related area, work must be done when it is available to do. One harvest season, I asked Dad why we had to get up so early.  His reply was "We have to get up extra early so we can work extra late."  When I said "That doesn't make any sense," Dad said "It doesn't have to make sense. It's the way things are."  Crops and the seasons don't wait for people.  People have to put in the hours to work the crop as the season demands. It doesn't have to make sense. It just the way things are.

What you plant determines what you harvest. Plant wheat, harvest wheat. Plant corn, harvest corn.  Whatever you plant, you will also get weeds. Getting rid of weeds is a lot of work. But, to succeed at farming, you have to get rid of or at least control the weeds.

Work is honorable. One of my Dad's favorite sayings was "Whether you're digging ditches or directing a corporation, it's all food on the table."  In Dad's world, putting food on the family table and keeping a roof over the family's head gave work dignity and gave the worker honor. What was done was not nearly as important as the results: food on the table, a roof overhead.  To keep both was the true measure of success. To keep doing it day after day, season after season, and year after year was worthy of the highest respect.

The highest complement my Day could pay anyone was "He'd give you the shirt off his back if you needed it," which went well with my Mom's "Put another cup of water in the soup. Company's coming.!"  You may not have much, but you always have enough to share. And you always share what you have, not because it's good, but because it's the right thing to do.

From my Dad, I learned that wisdom is not complicated.  Doing the wise thing is usually very simple.

There is a time for everything. Do it then.

What you plant determines what you will harvest, both on the farm an in life.

It takes a lot of work to stay weed free, but you have to do it if you expect a yield.

Work is honorable. Work that puts food on the table is the most honorable of all.  Nothing can diminish that honor. You have to do the work when the work needs to be done no matter how long it takes.

And, one never has so little he cannot share.

Wisdom from my Dad; it has become part of me, and through me, of my children.

What wisdom from your Dad has become part of you?

What are you doing to pass it down to your children?