With thanks to a host of good people whose names I don’t even know, I share the thoughts of Marge Piercy who wrote:
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 stand in the line and haul in their places,
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.
To Be of Use, by Marge Piercy
This season my special thanks go to the unsung techies who are the WD40 of the information age –
- the workers who get down on their hands and knees, crawl through ceilings and stuff themselves in closets to magically create order out of a maze of multi-colored cables with prongs more functional than sexy.
- the energetic crew at the Apple store who struggle endlessly with the psychological and technological foibles of struggling surfers.
- the staff at Central Library who lend a compassion ear and helping hand to the steady stream of job-seeking searchers
- the hackers at Open Twin Cities who manipulate raw data until it makes sense to community organizers working to make their streets safe
- the linemen/women who lay the broadband that links people, ideas and commerce
- the coders and taggers and catalogers who organize the stuff until it’s actually accessible on request
- the folks who evaluate, update and share the latest software
- the enlightened ones who use the task bar,
- Those who claim the rare ability to reverse polarity
In this digital age the fact remains that “the work of the world is common as mud.” A Thanksgiving shout-out to those who don’t shrink from “work that is real” – those who “move in a common rhythm when the food must come in or the fire be put out” or the new app installed.