A Cowboy’s Faith: Make work into play – Osage County Online | Osage County News

A Cowboy’s Faith: Make work into play

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Tom Sawyer eat your heart out.”

Uncertain what books grade school students nowadays want to read or teachers require as class assignment.

Back in the day, author Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer books were generally enjoyed by student readers. Nearly 150 years ago, Twain penned the series based on his childhood experiences growing up in western Missouri.

Likely considered just entertaining perhaps funny tall tales when read six decades ago, the stories are really more. There are life’s lessons throughout the books meriting review today by young people and their parents, too.

Couldn’t help but think about Tom when painting the arena posts last week. Tom’s Aunt Pauly told him to whitewash the 30 yards of nine-feet-high wood fence. Four dozen posts with a two-inch pipe railing around the arena don’t really compare to that job labor wise. Yet there is some semblance of the water-based white paint compared to the whitewash Tom used.

Latex or water-based paint costs less, can be thinned down with water and is readily cleaned up afterward with water. Oil-based paint costs more, is difficult to mix, thin and apply, cleanup is harder, yet coverage and longevity are better.

Tom likely made his whitewash with a sack of lime stirred into a bucket of river water.

Whitewashing the fence wasn’t as much fun as fishing but Tom grudgingly undertook the assigned job. When buddies saw Tom brushing whitewash onto the board fence they wanted to help, thinking it fun not work.

Tom changed attitude playing along as if enjoying the task and wouldn’t let his friends paint the fence. That made them want to do it even more, and finally Tom gave in.

His sidekicks paid him with trinkets for the “privilege” of doing Tom’s assignment whitewashing the fence. Tom ate one of their apples smilingly whistling as the job was soon completed.

Some people like to paint, really enjoy often repainting homes inside and out whether needed or not. Others like Tom consider painting hard work, dreading it, getting out of the job anyway they can.

One of Mark Twain’s many notable quotes is worth repeating. “Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do. Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.”

Reminded of Ecclesiastes 3:22: “There is nothing better than they enjoy their work.”

030615-franksmug2Frank J. Buchman is a lifelong rancher from Alta Vista, a lifetime newspaper writer, syndicated national ag writer and a radio marketing consultant. He writes a weekly column to share A Cowboy’s Faith.

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