Poem: The Tools


The Tools

You wake up foggy and already worn away.
Not at all yourself, or perhaps more yourself
than you want to admit.

It is a lie. You know this.
A trick of an undisciplined mind
left to its own devices all night.

What you desperately want to do is sleep.
The perfect escape.
There are no demons in sleep.

But neither is there progress.
There is no growth, no power
to do your tiny bit of good.

And that tiny bit is important.
it can be the grain that flips the scale
in a single life, or more,

in a big dark, angry world.
And so you get up. You have coffee.
You talk with your wife before she leaves for work

and then bring out the tools.

They are old and worn, these tools.
You were taught their use by others before you.
There is no originality or wisdom in them,

only the work. Simple. Proven. No shortcuts.
Do the work and you build. Do not
and the rot sets in. There is no in-between.

Everything is in flux. Light and dark.
and your work the light
that pushes back the night.

About this poem

It was a slow start to the day.  That’s not unusual.  I know the solution though. A wise and wonderful counselor gave me the tools a decade and more ago, and I still use them, almost daily.

The more I age, the more I realize the solution to most things is found in simplicity. There are age-old solutions to most things in life that still work, as long as we do. Success. Pushing back our demons. Love. Faith. All the important things are solved by simple work in our own lives. Using the old tools, sometimes with new names and twists, but always the old tools, to build and rebuild ourselves.

I love my work – the daily work I do on myself, and the work I do for others. None of it is near perfect, but it is stuff that feeds my soul. It is hard to ask for more.

The work has power.

The picture was taken in Washington DC. They were George Washington’s tools.

From all this, a poem.

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