When I was a kid, Labor Day was always a different kind of Holiday around my house. My mom and dad took the day’s name literally and we Labored all Day.
I would be in my yard digging, weeding, or mowing while I watched my friends all pass by on their way to the lake, the river, or the movies to have some fun. Countless times I tried to explain to my parents that other people were spending the day having fun and that the name of the holiday could be taken more figuratively.
It didn’t make any difference, and every year my brothers and sister continued laboring and our friends and their families continued celebrating the holiday the more traditional way.
What I didn’t realize until much later was that my parents really were treating the day like a holiday. They weren’t using Labor Day to cheat us from opportunity; they were using the day to teach us how to work. It didn’t matter that we were working on Labor Day (Ko, Cole and I are going to the pool today), what mattered was that my parents taught us how to work.
As I left home I began to see that this isn’t something every kid has the opportunity to understand. I started to realize that all those days we spent doing chores, working in the yard, or cleaning the kitchen helped me to know the value of a hard days work—and that that understanding in itself was a precious commodity.
I learned that you could control your own destiny and build your own success if you know how to work. Additionally, I found that all of the of the other things that can bring success that can’t be controlled directly though work (i.e. who you know, right place right time) can at least be influenced through a person’s willingness to be fully engaged. I was taught that by working hard, I could make my own luck.
I was also taught to value the feeling that comes from knowing you put in a hard days work.
After my auto accident I spent literal years of my life lying in bed. Interestingly, I found that during that time one of the tings that I missed most was that feeling of pleasure that comes no other way than from the knowledge that you gave your all. That feeling you get after working all day, be it at your job, in the yard, around the house, and you finally sit down on the couch and you know that you put everything you had into the days objective.
I would have people come to visit me in the hospital complaining about their job, complaining about their work, and I would be so jealous that they had a place to put their day’s labors—that they had the opportunity to work.
I’m grateful my mom and dad taught me how to work. It’s a commodity that is more and more becoming difficult to find and in short supply. I’m grateful for those difficult days in the hospital when I learned that it’s a privilege to have the opportunity to work hard.
This Labor Day (whether we are laboring or not) let’s remember that hard work is a blessing and that some of the greatest opportunities in our lives come from good old-fashioned hard work.