Mom gave birth to four boys. Three of us, Bill, Charlie and I, looked like her and followed her lifetime example, focusing on doing each task we took on as well as it could be done; not for financial reward, but for its own sake.

By contrast, Frank did excellent work, and, but he looked like Daddy, and like Daddy he was ambitious and competitive. Starting out as a lowly route salesman for Proctor and Gamble, he worked his way upward, becoming a multimillionaire company vice president.

I admire Frank’s success, and I’m certain that he was justifiably proud of it, but Bill, Charlie and I led far happier lives than Frank did. I certainly did. I don’t see how anyone could possibly have had a happier life.

Why? Simple. Happy is as happy does!

And what does that mean? It means that if you like what you’re doing, and you do it well, the feeling you get is all the reward you need to have a life, which is as close to a dream as life gets.

Examples? You bet!

Three separate times during my 21 years in the Air Force I turned down a commission because I wanted to be the person doing the work, not a mere supervisor.

Well how about being a flying officer, you ask? Flying an aircraft is sure as heck doing something!

Right! So, is driving a truck or running the projector in a movie theater. Sorry, I’m a gregarious person. I like being around people, and — if possible — I like doing something with, or at least for, people.

It would be hard to say which of the jobs I had in my 21 years in the Air Force was the happiest. I loved the three years I spent in Pakistan unloading cargo, mail, and passengers from aircraft, and getting more of the same back on board. It certainly wasn’t an easy job, especially when the temperatures on that flight-line rivaled those down in Phoenix in summer, plus the fact that for the first year or so I did it all by myself — just me and my trusty forklift.

However, the U-2 Program suddenly revved up, the number of aircraft doubled, tripled, and quadrupled, and I found myself with a nine-man crew of Pathans, tribesmen from what had been the Northwest Territory of India, the portion that was never truly conquered. Then the fun really began. You have never seen 10 happier people in your life. Yes, we worked our butts off, but it was a job worth doing, we knew it, and do it we did — and well!

Oddly enough, the only other two jobs I’ve had that were as good as that one involved one standing in front of a classroom, and one doing my best to turn our little house here in Pine into Lolly’s dream retirement home.

Why did I love teaching so much? Because I enjoyed giving youngsters something more than information and skills.

Think back to your days in school. Remember the teachers you loved, and the ones you hated?

What did the ones you hated give you? Information and skills, along with remarks and frowns that said they were better than you because they knew more.

And what did the ones you loved give you? The very same information and skills — along with some things that are far more important to each of us.

What things? Acceptance, belonging, and success.

It’s that simple: When the kids feel accepted as what they are — kids — they learn; and then both they, and you, are happy!

 

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