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How not What

Two brothers had a farm. Born to the rural life, each had agreed that when they were old enough, they would buy a farm together, where they would grow crops and keep livestock. This they had done and the brothers lived contented lives in the red and white farmhouse, feeding the hens that roamed the yard and collecting their eggs in the mornings for breakfast.

Although they were the best of friends, each brother was very different from the other. The first brother, who was a little older, had always been the serious one. He was conscientious and hard working and very quick-witted. The younger brother, graced with a fine sense of humor, was by no means lazy, however, his sibling had noticed that whatever he turned his hand to, he seemed to make the execution of it look easy. The elder of the two would often puzzle at his younger brother's natural brilliance as he himself struggled and strained over his chores. Both shared the work on the farm, neither one ever left his chores unattended and the farm ran very smoothly.

In matters of the heart, the brothers were also very different. The younger brother would complete his work on the farm and at the end of his working day, he would wash and change, whistling all the while and skip off down the gravel road to meet the daughter of a neighboring farmer, whereby the pair would head into town for a night out. The older brother also had a sweetheart nearby. But in the evening, when his work was done and he was washed and changed, the rigors of the day began to catch up with him and he would amble down the road to meet his girl, yawning and clutching at his aching back. Make no mistake, he loved her very much and she loved him, though she would often complain that he would fall asleep half way through dinner and that she might as well eat alone. By and by as this went on, the older brother became very troubled. He did not wish to be so disrespectful to his lady, for he loved her enough to some day make her his wife.

One day as he sweated in the hot sun fixing a broken fence, he lifted his head to stretch his back a little and noticed his younger brother across the field stacking hay. He was singing cheerily as he tossed and heaved the hay about, working steadily in the heat. The first brother puzzled for a moment, as he'd done many times before. He could just make out the words of the song. It was a love song. His brother often sang it as he worked; he had heard him before. Was his secret in the love song? 'Surely not, I think about love a lot' he thought to himself, 'we are not really so different'. And he returned to his hammering, his brow furrowed in deep concentration as he continued to brood over his problem.

At the end of the day when the brothers had finished working and looked forward to an evening of romance, they exchanged stories and discussed the business of the farm, as they shaved in front of the big farmhouse mirror. Once again the older brother was tired as he drew the razor across his gaunt face, while his junior hummed the love song he was so fond of, deftly shaving his whiskers as he did so. The elder could stand it no longer, he had to know what was responsible for his brother's energy, why did he not tire as he worked, for he was no slacker. Interrupting the tuneful rendition he stated his curiosity.

"Brother, it has puzzled me all these years…You work all day with admirable dedication to your tasks - your work is always of high quality, you even have time to rest - yet in the evenings you are not tired and I watch you skip down the road, your flowers in hand, while I gather all my strength for the evening ahead with a heavy heart and an aching back. I work all day just as you do, I too am dedicated to my work as you are - like you, I think about my sweetheart all the time - yet I have no time to rest and I am always tired at the end of the day and I should not enjoy my night out half as much as you. What makes you so different from me?"

His brother thought for a moment and gave his reply, as if aware of their differences for the first time. He began slowly.

"Where you call it work, I prefer sport. Where you struggle, I persist. Where you toil, I exercise and where you think about your sweetheart, mine is with me every moment of the day. And when I go out, I have not ended my work - I am continuing my play."

His brother listened and because he was ready for his answer, he understood.

The following day, he did not go out on the farm to labor at his chores, nor did he think about the girl he would marry. Instead, he whistled and he sang and he walked with a spring in his step, full of the joys of the warm summer sun and the sweet smell of the hay, and he did not miss his love, for while he worked alone today, she had not left his side.

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