The Real Work

The Real Work

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,

and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.

The mind that is not baffled is not employed.

The impeded stream is the one that sings.

Wendell Berry

22 comments on “The Real Work

  1. Reading this on this particular morning is like finding a message in a bottle. Thanks to you and to Mr. Berry for that.

    Enjoy your big day!


  2. Judy says:

    Thank God for Wendell! Thanks Bill for posting!


  3. Jeff says:

    My mind has been employed for a long, long time, I reckon. What a wonderful observation from my favorite author! Thanks! “The impeded stream is the one that sings”: tribal members take note.


  4. nebraskadave says:

    Ah Bill, now you’re trying to make me think and contemplate again. 🙂 It hurts my brain to try and figure out what exactly those deep thinkers are trying to tell me. I guess what this old country boy gets from this piece of Wendell is that challenges in life and the decisions I make because of them are what has made me a better person. I suspect, as all philosophy does, it touches people at where the are in life and could mean different things to them.

    You are determined to get my old cobweb filled brain thinking again, aren’t you. Well, keep it up. Young in mind – young in life. Helping to raise a nine year old grandson doesn’t necessarily make me feel young but there are many things I do with him just fooling around having a good time that I would never do without him being here. So in reality it does kind of keep my mind young.

    The damage on my truck looks to me just to be a few broken plastic parts and a new bumper. Was I ever shocked to find that the cost of repair was going to be over $4,000. What? Soon we will be at the point with cars as everything else in our culture. Just throw it away and buy a new one. That’s crazy.

    Thanks for your kind words about my comments and be sure to have a great Wendell Berry day.


    • Bill says:

      Sorry to hear that is going to cost so much to fix your truck. Your comment reminds me of something Wendell Berry wrote in one of his essays, which I think you’ll appreciate:

      “A better economy, to my way of thinking, would be one that would place its emphasis not upon the quantity of notions and luxuries, but upon the quality of necessities. Such an economy would for example, produce an automobile that would last at least as long, and be at least as easy to maintain, as a horse. It would encourage workmanship to be as durable as its materials; thus a piece of furniture would have the durability not of glue, but of wood. It would substitute for the pleasure of frivolity a pleasure in the high quality of essential work, in the use of good tools, in a healthful and productive countryside. It will encourage a migration from the cities back to the farms, to assure a work force that would be sufficient, not only to production of the necessary quantities of food, but to production of food of the best quality and to the maintenance of the land at the highest fertility–work that would require a great deal more personal attention and care and hand labor than the present technological agriculture that is focused so exclusively on production.”


      • nebraskadave says:

        Bill, hooray for insurance. I only have to come up with the $500 deductible. The most difficult part about this deal is it will take a week to fix it. I haul stuff with my little truck almost daily.

        I do indeed remember the end of the era that Wendell is talking about in your response to my comment. Nebraska life in the 1950s was more homesteading type living with hired hands and labor sharing among neighbors to help with the work load. The average farm back then was maybe 2 or 3 hundred acres. Every farm had a big garden and wives would fill up the cellar with canned goods and later freezers would hold the winter bounty. City jobs shifted the work force from the farm to the city with the promise of more money earned and easier work. I watched it slowly happen in my youthful years and didn’t have a clue what was actually happening. I don’t think anyone then thought we would end up where we are with agriculture today.

        Thanks for bringing me into the knowledge of great writers.


  5. Eumaeus says:

    This is a man after my own true heart…


  6. As always, it’s the journey, and the challenges along the way, that count. –Curt


  7. EllaDee says:

    Choosing from the myriad of things, which arise from the natural order of a fruitful life, to be accomplished is far preferable and less effort than conjuring them from a vacuum.


  8. shoreacres says:

    I do like these lines of Berry, particularly the last. There’s a koan-like clarity to them. Today, they reminded me of a few of my own favorite lines from Eliot.

    …each venture
    Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate,
    With shabby equipment always deteriorating
    In the general mess of imprecision of feeling,
    Undisciplined squads of emotion. And what there is to conquer
    By strength and submission, has already been discovered
    Once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot hope
    To emulate – but there is no competition –
    There is only the fight to recover what has been lost
    And found and lost again and again: and now, under conditions
    That seem unpropitious. But perhaps neither gain nor loss.
    For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.

    Hope you day went well, and was fruitful.


    • Bill says:

      Thanks for sharing that Linda. “For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.” That is such an important truth I think.

      As I wrote in today’s post, yesterday was a good and encouraging day for the movement here.


  9. Seeking Joyful Simplicity says:

    Trying to make some “heavy” decisions that will affect my life (and my family’s) dramatically, now and in the future. Wendell’s words were helpful this morning. Thank you.


  10. Joseph A. Salmon, Jr. says:

    Congratulations! Sincerely,


  11. avwalters says:

    One of my favorite writers….


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