Yesterday, I was painting the eaves of my house, and it brought back memories of my youth when I was an aspiring Eagle Scout, doing my Eagle Scout project. For some crazy reason, my brother and I decided to work together on a three building painting project at our county fair. An old train station, a church, and a school that were considering historical buildings were in need of a serious paint job. So we decided to come to the rescue and paint it. The fairgrounds supervisor named Dick did us the fine favor of scraping the paint off, then allowed us to use oil based primer to paint all three buildings, which would only come off with gasoline, then paint them with actual paint one more time.
It took us a month of oil, sweat, paint tears, and unwilling volunteers, but we finally finished. To this day, if you quote Dick’s famous line, “Don’t forget the eaves!” my brother, mother or me will go on a bitter tirade about the whole project. I did finally end up getting my Eagle, but my brother did not, because the idea of a combined project was rejected. I don’t think my brother would mind me telling you that this decision is what caused him to bitterly quit the Scouts.
A few years later, I decided to visit the fairgrounds again and saw that the buildings were once again in ill repair. I realized that for all the hard work paint is, it barely recognizes all the hard work you put into it. In fact, just like yesterday, when I was painting, I could barely tell the difference between the old paint and the new paint. And heaven forbid, if anyone came over would they even realize that the work we did was something new or the same paint job we did 15 years ago.
Then I started realizing that recognition for hard work is pretty rare in all aspects of your life. Do you remember all the hard work you did on a project at work? And how much recognition you got from it? Do you remember getting paid any more? Getting an award for your overtime? Having the boss say thanks? Just like the paint barely recognizes your hard work, I bet at your yearly review, the boss didn’t remember that you were the only person during the two snowstorm days, taking care of EVERY others person job that day, because the rest of them couldn’t make it in. They probably remembered the one time you screwed up (or in my case all the times).
Just like all that work you put into your tree. Digging up some soil, planting that tree, watering it, avoiding mowing it over those seven times, and all it gave you was that terrible rotten fruit and the shade that always covered the other side of where you needed it. So you went to all the work to chop it down, and the wood you were going to use from it was wet so you couldn’t use it and the reams of paper were for your first draft, so those just got recycled.
Or all that work you put into that food you ate that one time. You got in your car, you turned it on, you let the engine rev a little, you turned on your air conditioning because it was hot, realized that you didn’t have air conditioning, put the car in reverse, backed up a little, turned the wheel, punched in the clutch, moved into first gear, then second, third, then downshifted to second again, when you got to the stop sign at the end of your street. See where I’m going with this? Then you went all the way to McDonald’s, got some McDouble’s and some McChicken’s and some McFries and some McOrange drinks and gave them the last of the money in your McWallet, and got home and everyone just scarfs it right McDown their McThroats. Minutes later, the kids are in your fridge looking for something to eat because they are still hungry.
All that hard work for NOTHING. It could go on and on about all the hard work things I do everyday. I awake and get out of my bed. I comb all those hairs and all they do is keep moving from my head to other places that don’t need hair. I drive my car places and they keep complaining about needing more gas. I eat things to make my stomach shut up and moments later they complain cause I gave it too much. I type things and they keep yelling at me with it’s red squiggly lines. I give someone a credit and they just keep asking for more.
But when I lazily sit around on a couch, does that couch ask anything of me? Nope, it just says, “Keep laying down. Lay down forever if you want. I love having you here.” Does it praise me and recognize me? Absolutely. Anytime I leave, it leaves an honorary indentation in the cushions for me. It lets me rest my weary back. It tells me to never leave or get up. It wants me to stay and rewards me for doing so. It says, “Get those feet off the ground. Don’t worry about all those crumbs, we’ll just put those underneath my cushions, heck we’ll even save some quarters and nickels for you later when you run out of money. We want you here. We need you here. Unlike that paint that takes everything from you and gives you nothing.”
Bitter Hard Work Averse Ben