Friday, August 3, 2012


Thanks to Purdue for Permission to Re-print

I have to admire my son Sam (#43; far right) who spends the summer getting up most mornings at 5:45 for a couple hours of weight training and then returns in the afternoon for a couple more hours of kicking practice. He shared with me a little mantra that he learned from one of his coaches on how to stay focused when all the world around seems out of whack: "DYFJ" (just do your f---ing job)!

With that in mind, I have assembled the following collection, all related to the theme of work and, more importantly, DYFJ!

"Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do.
Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do."

Mark Twain
from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer


“The Master of the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which; he simply pursues his vision of excellence in whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he is always doing both.”

Lawrence Pearsall Jacks

I Want A Lot

You see, I want a lot.
Perhaps I want everything:
the darkness that comes with every infinite fall
and the shivering blaze of every step up.

So many live on and want nothing
and are raised to the rank of prince
by the slippery ease of their light judgments.

But what you love to see are faces
that so work and feel thirst.

You love most of all those who need you
as they need a crowbar or a hoe.

[Alt. translation:
You cherish those
who grip you for survival.

You have not grown old, and it is not too late
to dive into your increasing depths
where life calmly gives out its own secret.

[Alt. translation:
You are not dead yet, it’s not too late
to open your depths by plunging into them
and drink in the life that reveals itself quietly there.

Rainer Maria Rilke / translated by Robert Bly

To Be Of Use

The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.

Marge Piercy

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  1. “One must work, nothing but work, and one must have patience.”
    Auguste Rodin


    "The harder you work the luckier you get."

  3. The secret to success is this: there is no secret to success.