Friday, August 31, 2012

Green Leaves of Summer

Green leaves of Summer;
Memories of times long past
and fields of my youth.
The green leaves of summer in the fields of my youth were the leaves of six acres of mature tobacco plants awaiting harvest beginning in mid August.. 

Known as housing tobacco, harvest meant long days in the fields and barns getting the crop in the house. I remember the pop and snort of the tractor taking us to the field, the rhythm of bending the plant over and cutting it off low to the ground with a single whack of the cutter and then moving on to the next plant.  I remember how to stack the cut plants so they were easy to pick up and how to load them on the wagon without breaking the leaves. 

I remember the feel of the sun on my neck and often shirtless back. Sweat got in my eyes. Tobacco gum, the incomparably bitter sap of the plant, got all over everything, sometimes so much that I could stand my jeans in the corner for the night. And the taste got in my mouth. Only a ripe tomato filched from a vine on the edge of the field could get rid of it. 

Only in retrospect do I realize how good it all was, how important those times were and will ever remain.
As the song says

"It was good to be young then,
To be close to the earth,
And the green leaves of Summer
Are calling me home."  

Sunday, August 19, 2012

An Attitude to Finish With

It has long been written you should never buy a car built on either a Monday or a Friday. The logic is on Monday, too many  workers are recovering from the weekend to do their best work and on Friday, too many are slacking off in anticipation of the weekend.  Quality surveys at the time tended to bear this out.  Popular knowledge said that cars produced on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday had the least problems and lasted longest..

In our culture that Wednesday is widely referred to as "hump day".  On hump day the work-week is precariously balanced -- half done, and half to be completed.

On Wednesday afternoon, we are free to release some of the pressure to perform that drives our early efforts and begin what many refer to as "that long pleasant slide into the weekend". By quitting time Friday, when we finally shut down, our minds have already been out the front door for half a day.

Such an attitude assumes that we work five days a week so that we can truly live the other two.  As a result, we coast through the week and through life doing less than our best, wondering why we fail to excel. We also end up enduring rather than living a large fraction of our existence.

Rather than looking at Wednesday as the beginning of a long slide into the weekend, why not look on it as the beginning of a final sprint to the finish line? Runners in competition know the value of the final sprint or "kick" at the end of the race.  Depending on the competition, the strength and duration of one's kick may mean the difference between a medal and finishing in the middle of the pack.

Starting well is important, but one can make up for a less than optimal start.

Continuing strong is important. It keeps one in contention for the finish.

But a good kick, a strong final sprint at the finish is required to become a champion.

And, a strong kick is a matter of attitude.

So, how are you spending your life?

Are you well into that long slide to whatever comes next or are you sprinting to attain the prize?

The choice is yours.