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work ethic (a story)

updated thu 8 jul 04


Tig Dupre on wed 7 jul 04

Many years ago, when I was a youngster, my Mom read a story to me that stuck with me.
It was called, "Never Worked and Never Will."


All day long, an old man worked in his shop, carving marvelous wooden ducks, geese,
and wild birds. Beautiful birds with bright feathers, sparkling eyes, and minute
detail. It seemed these birds could get up and fly, if they wanted. People came from
all over to buy these marvelous models. For some, they paid a great price.

The old man would work from early in the morning to sunset. The wood chips would be
piled high by nightfall, and he would sweep them up and put them in the bin for

Townspople and children would come by and watch through the windows, then move on.
Over the doorway to the shop, the carver had hung a beautifully made sign, decorated
with vines and leaves, animals and birds. The sign read, "Never Worked and Never

One day, a small girl stepped into the shop. She watched the carver for a while, as
his hands shaped the beautiful birds, then she looked at him and asked, "Why does your
sign say, 'Never Worked and Never Will?' You work all day and make many things. If
that's not work, what is it?"

The old man set his knife down and handed her the little carving he was making. He
said, "I do this because I like to do it. I am a very lucky man because I can make a
living doing something I enjoy. It's not work to me. I can carve as much as I like
and I never get tired of it. That's why the sign says 'Never Worked," because it's
not really work. It's love."

And the little girl told her children, and her grandchildren, and her great-
grandchildren the secret. If you can, make your living doing what you like to do.
Then, it's not really work.


I like one of the inspirational sayings I see now and again, "What would you do if you
knew you could not fail?" I'm trying to work up the courage to do what I *want* to
do, rather than what I *have* to do to survive. I'd work 12 or more hours a day at
being a potter, as opposed to working 9 hours a day being a computer geek. I'd
probably crawl into bed at night, tired and sore, but smiling in satisfaction at the
day's accomplishments.

And that, I think is a BIG part of the 'work ethic.' Do what you like to do. It's a lot less work that way.

Now, quit reading email and get back in the studio! There is a lot of clay that needs your attention.

Tig Dupre
in Port Orchard, Washington, USA