“Happiness does not come from doing easy work but from the afterglow of satisfaction that comes after the achievement of a difficult task that demanded our best”
Theodore Isaac Rubin
Do I stop and pick up that piece of trash? Do I drive around that small branch in front of me? Do I go in a counter-clockwise or clockwise circle? Do I use a square as my template? Do I go from the inside out or the outside in? These are all major questions of strategy and work product when we climb onto our riding lawnmower.
(My mother-in-law…we call her Grambo which is a combination of Rambo and Grandma)
Sometimes before we climb on to that mower we actually check to see if there is gas and on rare occasions we check to see if the oil level is ok. Three year old dented and scarred blades must perform despite their tired condition. Our mission is to get the yard mowed before the televised football game and our riding mower is expected to perform and to give us this sense of work accomplishment before we sit ourselves down to a well-earned chips and drink sports extravaganza…oh, and by the way, when we arrive to our TV room we are once more going to sit down and do nothing for several hours yet still get the adrenalin rush as if we were actually suiting up and playing in the game..but that’s another story.
I have been amazed at the thinking that goes into mowing the yard on a mower that does all the work for you. There is a never-ending thought process that the operator goes through to try to do it better each week. Not just better than last week when you mowed but better than the way your neighbor mows who has also been doing it for over thirty years.
A riding lawnmower is an amazing invention. A mower can deliver a piece of grass art to a baseball field. It can make a putting surface on a golf course look and feel like carpet. Never has anything been built that delivers such a massive work product that is visible to all, creates such a good feeling for the worker because the work product is admirable, gives the impression that the operator has been working hard because he/she is dusty and maybe sweating from the sun, and does all of this in such a way that the driver has expended very few calories in the process except to steer. In most cases, the effort that it would have taken to get off the lawnmower to move that piece of paper or branch is lost in the chopping sounds of the blades as you run right over it!
Unlike weed eating or raking or planting a garden, a riding lawnmower allows you to feel great about yourself and yard without having to actually work. It eases the conscious. If the family activity today is going to be “let’s work in the yard”, the instant debate is who gets to mow. Everyone in my family knows that the grandmothers get the mower. We all try get in a turn but are careful not to cross the line.
So is it a gift from heaven to be able to show a lot of work product without much effort…is that a tender mercy…or just a sign that somehow our internal need to be productive has been met while still satisfying our natural desire to be lazy?
(My mother and daughter Allie)
Many modern-day conveniences save us from tremendous amounts of work. Indoor plumbing and central heat mean we can flush, shower and stay warm without having to go outside to haul water or chop wood…and we can do it in seconds with very little effort. The trouble is that it is not only easy but it also looks easy. With the press of a button or handle we accomplish what used to take a lot of work to do. It just does not deliver the impression that we have done a lot of hard work.
That is where the magic of the riding lawnmower becomes apparent. When we mow the yard, it takes little effort but because it takes time and looks like a lot of work has been done, we feel differently. We get the feeling like we just chopped two cords of wood and carried buckets of water from the river so that Ma could cook dinner.
The HighFive Your Life principle that I would like to share is simple. Let’s give ourselves a break. Maybe mowing the lawn on a riding lawnmower is not the same as chopping wood or hauling water but we work so hard in so many other ways that maybe this is one break from heaven that is just a nice gift. We ought to take it and say thank you! What do you think?
HighFive Your Life principle: Say thank you for the invention of the riding lawnmower!
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