Motivation, Excuses, and Bukowski

I had a project due in my high school classes last week, and several students didn’t have it ready, with excuses like, “I was busy.  I have stressful stuff going on.  I have other classes, too, you know.”

At one point, I gently asked the class at large, “Is there anybody here who doesn’t have stressful stuff going on, and a busy schedule?  Anybody have no problems in life, and hours of free time every day?”  Of course not.  “So why is it that everybody else gets their job done? Because they choose not to let problems get in the way.  Because we all make our priorities.”

The difference is commitment, investment, and internal motivation.

I’ve actually had college students miss classes and work and then tell me, simply, “Family drama,” as if that’s the most natural, reasonable explanation for failure in the world, as if all should be forgiven.

Good grief, if that were true, literally nothing anywhere would ever get done.

This all reminds me of Charles Bukowski’s great poem, “Air and Light and Time and Space.”

“–you know, I’ve either had a family, a job,
something has always been in the
way
but now
I’ve sold my house, I’ve found this
place, a large studio, you should see the space and
the light.
for the first time in my life I’m going to have
a place and the time to
create.”

no baby, if you’re going to create
you’re going to create whether you work
16 hours a day in a coal mine
or
you’re going to create in a small room with 3 children
while you’re on
welfare,
you’re going to create with part of your mind and your body blown
away,
you’re going to create blind
crippled
demented,
you’re going to create with a cat crawling up your
back while
the whole city trembles in earthquake, bombardment,
flood and fire.

baby, air and light and time and space
have nothing to do with it
and don’t create anything
except maybe a longer life to find
new excuses
for.

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