Around 8am my bedroom door opened and I was awakened.
Get up Tim. We’re going to work, it’s a glorious day!!!
Shocked and groggy, I replied, “But Dad, I’m Sick.” “I know, that’s why you’re not at school. Mom says you had an upset stomach, but you haven’t thrown up and its been 3 hours… So you can come to work with me or I can take you to school, but if you’re not puking, you’re not laying around.”
Dad was infamous for his work ethic. From a young age, us kids were given chores that would be accomplished, no excuses. We were not paid for our work. Everyone in the home was expected to contribute. Mom and Dad paid the bills and provided for us… we took care of the dishes, the yard, the wash, etc.
If you knew Duane Wenzel, he worked. That’s what he did. Wake up at 5am, at the shop by 7, at the job site by 8:30 so they could begin work at 9. Even that was too late for him, but since he painted houses, you had to accommodate the people who lived there… Home for dinner by 5 or 6, run out to do estimates – after people had their dinner. Home around 8 for a bit of TV, then to bed. That was a normal day.
When Mom would ask him to grill for dinner, it only came one way, burnt – because he would fit in an estimate or tidy up a project at the shop while the meat cooked.
During Little League season he would usually fit our games into his schedule. Baseball required practice, usually playing catch or batting practice. During summers he was happy to help. We could play catch throughout the afternoon, while we waited for paint to dry… Of course, we had to help paint to get the practice time.
He always had a side hustle – a get rich quick scheme: Amway, Rexall, Insurance… you’d think selling painting services would be enough but Dad was a salesman, he loved it. He went to meetings, hosted meetings, loved meetings… come to think of it, he should’ve had a corporate job! But that wouldn’t do. Work wasn’t work unless it was manual labor. That’s what he loved, this other stuff would get him ahead someday… but it wasn’t work.
Going to Work
But today, I would choose to go paint with my Dad. I hated painting, but it was better than school. We arrived at the job and Dad told me to begin taping a couple rooms so we could paint the entire floor of the house.
“Shouldn’t I tape the whole job Dad?”
“No,” he replied, “you’re taping the rooms you will paint, I don’t need tape. When you become a professional, you become so good at the basics that you do them without thinking. You don’t need tricks to not make a mess of things. Whatever you do, you should become the best, then you can help others instead of relying on others for help.“
I remember when he first described himself as a professional. It stunned me. I thought he was joking because I only thought of athletes as professionals. People who were famous. Not painters. Who cared about painting?
While we worked, I developed an attitude. I hated painting. Heavy breathing, loud sighs, whining because my arm hurt, or I was bored, or something else. Every now and again my dad would call out from another room, “Do you need to go to the woodshed?” The woodshed. The storied place on the farm where apparently all the discipline happened. I don’t know if those stories were true, but it was a motivating image…
We finished the job, cleaned up, packed up and on the drive back to the shop he asked, “Does your stomach still hurt?” Of course it didn’t, I had forgotten about it. Then he continued:
“I know you didn’t feel well this morning, but you weren’t sick. There is a difference between being sick and not feeling well.
As you go through life, there will be many days, weeks, sometimes years when you won’t feel well for one reason or another, but life won’t wait for you. Bills won’t wait for you and at some point, people will rely on you to take care of them.
So we go to work.
We have to find a way to not care about how we feel and busy ourselves with a purpose. Once you’re busy accomplishing something, you’ll feel better.”
“Want to play catch before dinner?“
Thoughts & Stories for Owning Life starts here, where an overwhelming sense of discontent made me restless. A conviction that the purpose for my life was being hidden from me by this cornfield. The certainty that my entire world was conspiring to trap me into their life of mediocrity, forcing me to run a maze of meaningless expectations.
If you join my journey, you won’t hear a superhuman story. You’ll follow an angry child on a journey to prove people wrong, to find adventure in the hopes of discovering something meaningful… a purpose worth the struggle. You’ll learn the lessons of a young adult who is nothing special, yet has experiences which have been the topic of discussion in cafes and diners all over the world.
Maybe you will find yourself in a different context, a different reality, starting a new journey. A journey to find purpose & meaning worth the struggle.
A journey to correct past mistakes, to reclaim opportunities you previously passed up…