Things are getting a bit jumbled in my head lately. Maybe it’s the vicious cold virus invading. Maybe it’s listening to endless renditions of songs from the musical “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” as I’m assisting the high school drama group. Maybe it’s trying to juggle my various responsibilities at home as mom and head teacher. Maybe it’s the lengthy tome that STILL follows me around the house, whispering “Read Me!”
So anyways, I’m going back in AK. Waaay back to Part III chapter 254. Tolstoy seems to enjoy interjecting random phrases in German (and other languages as well, come to think of it). I particularly enjoy the German, due to the fact that a very long time ago I studied this language for 4 years. In this chapter, he throws out the phrase “Arbeitskür,” which means “work cure.” If you can remember back this far, readers, Levin has joined the peasants in harvesting the hay. He picks up a scythe and joins right in, despite the quizzical looks from most of the peasants. At first it is excruciating. Levin’s only thought is to just make it to the end of the row and not make a fool of himself by cutting off some essential part of himself. But, as time goes on, he finds enjoyment in the work. He appreciates (for the first time perhaps) partaking in simple food and rest after hard labor. After awhile, Levin finds himself even more energetic than usual, with a more positive outlook on life. When his brother Koznyshev questions him about his appetite and energy, Levin credits Arbeitskür . He even says that Arbeitskür is “a remedy for every kind of folly,” and that he is thinking of “enriching Medicine with (this) new word.”
Not a bad philosophy, Levin. We’re pretty pampered now-a-days, but even so, a good hard day’s work, say raking leaves or canning 115 quarts of applesauce or even putting forth your best effort running a 10K brings a certain satisfaction. You sleep well after that type of effort. The sense of accomplishment brings lasting satisfaction, perhaps even banishing normal worries and annoyances for awhile.
I’ve been thinking of applying this philosophy to my children. I’m sure they will find it as satisfying as I do when the rallying cry of “Arbeitskür!” rings through the house. Sisters fighting? Arbeitskür! (Go rake some leaves for an hour.) Son bored? Arbeitskür! (Got some wood for you to chop.) Complaints about normal chores? Arbeitskür! (You think that’s work? Let me show you some REAL work.)
Now if only I had a giant meadow of hay in need of harvesting in my backyard. Or a scythe. In absence of the former, anyone have any great ideas for my Arbeitskür philosophy appropriate for middle school children? I’m open to all suggestions.