Host Garrison Keillor answers your questions about life, love, writing, authors, and of course, A Prairie Home Companion.
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December 10, 2013 |
To the host:
As a young person, it is hard to find role models and peers who enjoy working hard... doing good work. In trying to be an aware, fit, and wholesome individual, it seems I only identify with old people. What do you suggest?
You're so right, that the pleasure of work is crucial to a healthy life, but surely you know classmates who love their schoolwork, whether its math or history or writing or music, and that's where it all begins. In any school, there are the comedians and the hipsters, the joiners, the fluffheads, who make a point of sloughing off work, who take their identity from not doing well, and then there are us nerds who dig down into the material and want to do well, not to win approval but because the work makes them feel whole. Marge Piercy wrote a poem, "To Be Of Use," in which she said:
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.
You can learn a lot from old people but the hard work needs to be done by your generation, Jenna, and I wish you well. Find some strivers your age and talk about the work you want to do in your life and look for people engaged in that work and see if they'll take you on. Be wary of fields in which there is rigid hierarchy, look for fields in which people of many different competencies are accepted as equals, in which everyone pulls together. And good luck.