The Three Tidbits of Life

17 04 2016

By the time I met old Ivan he was in his mid-60s but looked much older from his years Rock _nworking in the foundry. His hands were heavily calloused and his fingers went in different directions from the effects of arthritis. Still he showed up and did his job every day and was considered the best Muller Man in the plant. That’s someone who would prepare a combination of sand, clay and water to be made into molds that molten iron was poured into for the making of gray iron castings. The industry had testing equipment to ensure the molds were made properly, but Ivan liked the old process the best. Grabbing a handful of moist, hot, black sand he’d give it a good squeeze; by the feel and sight of what he held in his hand he could tell if he was making good or bad sand. Must have been something in that old man’s touch, because then we ran the lowest scrap rate due to mold damage in the history of the company.

I spent a week training with Ivan.  Whenever things were running fine (which was most of the time with him at the control), we’d have time for talk. Three tidbits he gave me have stuck all these years later all dealing with life. “So what brought you to the foundry?” He asked one day. “Truthfully it was the highest paying place to get into easy,” I responded.  “I’m not planning on staying here, this is just temporary. “Yeah me, too” he countered. Then with a smile, “That temporary was 45 years ago. Other than when I went off to war this is all I’ve known and I like it. It’s been good to me, kept me in paychecks, built my home, fed and clothed my family and even paid for my son’s college education. The way I see it, I might have done better somewhere else, but then I might have done a whole lot worse, main thing is I’m happy in my job.” (Tidbit #1)

“So what do want to do with your life if you don’t want to be here?” I usually answered that question with telling of my desire to play music, but nothing came.  “I don’t know,” I finally answered. “I would love to see the world, but I doubt if I’ll ever have the money to travel like I want.” “Can you read?” he questioned. “Yes, I can read,” I answered a little sarcastically. “Well, then can you afford to buy books or at least go to the library?” Yes was the answer to both questions; “What’s your point?” “Other than being in Europe during the war I haven’t seen a whole lot either. And when you have people shooting at you there’s not much chance of taking in the sights. But I love to read, and I’ve been all over the world from the books I’ve read and pictures in them. One of the big shots here couldn’t get over how I could tell him more about Rome than what he learned from being there for a week.  I plan to travel when I retire but the many places I still won’t make it to doesn’t matter, I’ve already been there.  God gave you a mind and an imagination, don’t let either go to waste.” (Tidbit #2)

The final gem came one evening when we got around to Ivan’s soon to be retirement. “So besides doing some traveling, you have any other plans when you retire?”  “Sure do,” he shot back. “I’m going to age slowly and live everyday to its fullest. I have a formula for that, wanna hear it?” “Oh absolutely,” I said thinking this ought to be good. He then asked, “You have a television?” “Yes, doesn’t everyone?” I answered with a chuckle. “Well, when you get home throw a rock through it.” What?!! Was he being serious; I didn’t have a chance to answer before he followed up with “Do you have a recliner or an easy chair?” About half afraid to answer I told him I did. “Drag it out in your backyard, soak it in gas and burn it!  Now you have nothing to dull your mind and make your backside grow large as you sit for hours doing nothing.  Then get busy living; that’s what we were made for anyway you know.” (Tidbit #3)

I heard it once said “Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life”

Perhaps old Ivan was feeding me a line, but from what I learned from ones who knew him better than me he lived his life by this saying. It wasn’t to impress others or for bragging rights to draw attention to himself; I believe it was for the sole and the “soul” purpose of making his days more than just an existence but a achievement of a happy life. Awesome!

Well Ivan, this “Traveler of the Rock Road lived to a ripe, productive and happy old age. As I learned more about him I came to realize that we would meet up again some day because of faith in the one he knew as Lord. And when we do, I hope to let him know how much his tidbits of wisdom taught me, not only in my physical, but my spiritual life.

Tidbit #1 – Ecclesiastes 6:9 – “Enjoy what you have rather than desiring what you don’t have. Just dreaming about nice things is meaningless—like chasing the wind.”

Tidbit #2 – 2 Timothy 2:15 – “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth”

Tidbit #3 – Matthew 19:26 – “With God there is no limit what you can do; there is no obstacle you can’t overcome. Through Him, all things are possible.

Thank you Ivan

As I now approach my own retirement and think back on the words of my friend I believe I’m going to make a card to carry in my wallet that goes something like this:

“I’m going to make the rest of my life, the best of my life”

Don’t know about you, but it seems like a good idea to me.

See ya next time.


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18 04 2016
Gary Austin

Make the rest of your life the best of your life. Got a rock for me, John?

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