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THE IDLE AMERICAN
Wednesday, March 31, 2010 • Posted March 31, 2010

Sure Signs of Spring…

This time of year is delicious! The weather warms, Bradford pear trees explode into blossom, NCAA basketball play-offs dominate the month and students push studies aside for week-long spring breaks. (Alas, for some revelers giant waves of reality sweep back at the end of spring break, leaving them "spring broke.")

Heart cockles are warmed by accounts of growing numbers of collegians committed to humanitarian causes. Theirs is a vacation from school, but not from work. Often converging on communities where calamities have dealt havoc, the student volunteers log long hours to repair what’s broken and to heal what’s hurting.

Usually representing campus religious or service organizations, these youngsters forge friendships with the beneficiaries they serve. Often, the recipients are elderly folks whose options are dwindling. Along the way, the dignity of work is discovered, faith is restored, and collegians come face to face with a truism for which 16

* * * * *

I’ve long believed that the happiest people are those whose lives are immersed in service to others. These are the same folks who still buy into the admonition attributed to Confucius, whose main work seemed to have been thinking and writing.

"Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life." That’s the mantra of this Chinese teacher/philosopher who lived some six centuries before Christ.

Sadly, the segment of people happily "locked in" to jobs they love seems small. However, Uncle Mort, my 97-year-old uncle down in the thicket, keeps searching….

* * * * *

When I spoke with him on the phone this week, he was working on birthday slogans. He adds another ring to his tree come July. I agreed that his "still feeling great at 98" would make a good banner to hoist above the birthday cake.

This day, though, my question was whether he remembered the absolutely toughest job he ever tackled. He’s always claimed to have been "in harness with hard work" since age five.

We’ve joked that Mort’s long been known for "ministerial speaking." Or ramping up numbers with chamber of commerce talk….

* * * * *

"I thought you’d hit me with a hard question, nephew," he laughed. "But this one’s easy. The first job I ever had was also the hardest one, requiring discipline, hard work, consistency and a tolerance for early rising."

Wow, I thought. His answer flowed so quickly, I wondered why I hadn’t heard it before.

"It was a seven-days-a-week job during the long winter months," Mort explained. "My job was to get up way before sun-up to get the wood stove burning so I could boil water in the tea kettle to pour through the cracks in the floor to get the hogs out from under the house."…

* * * * *

That was Uncle Mort being Uncle Mort.

"Speaking of work, it looks to me like the New Hampshire legislature has run out of things to do," he said, mentioning a news item that the Yankees up there are debating whether to designate milk or cider as the ‘state drink’. Just when the legislature was ready to cheer ‘here, here’ to cider, a burgeoning student movement to consider milk couldn’t be ignored," he added. (The milk proponents were stirred to action by a nine-year-old youngster who doesn’t care for cider.)

Mort admitted that he probably shouldn’t be critical, because the Texas legislature regularly bickers over much less….

* * * * *

"It’s a slam dunk that if they’re going to name an official drink, it ought to be milk," Mort opined.

He talked about how such a decision would give teachers yet another way to introduce food groups to youngsters, and how the "juice from Old Jersey" is basic to so many recipes. He mentioned, too, how the "Got Milk?" theme could be worked into skits.

"Somehow, "Got Cider?" has a different ring, and would be barely noticed when wiped away from drenched mustaches," Mort added….

* * * * *

Dr. Newbury is a speaker and author in the Metroplex. Send inquiries/comments to: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: www.speakerdoc.com.

th century Christian martyr John Bradford is most remembered: "There but for the grace of God go I."…

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