Posted by: sulya | 22 June 2009

Get It Done

Found this quote in the Fall 2008 issue of Lapham’s Quarterly: WAYS OF LEARNING.  My dad brought it with him when my folks visited last week and I’ve been trolling through, hitting on things.  Getting stuck in both good ways and bad and this one definitely seemed worth sharing.

T.H.Huxley(Woodburytype)Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not; it is the first lesson that ought to be learned and, however early a man’s training begins, it is probably the last lesson that he learns thoroughly.

— T.H. Huxley, 1877

Should you be curious to know who Huxley is his wiki page tells a bit and shows the adjacent image of him which seems to be its own in-joke featuring his somewhat simian features and a kind of complacent almost Mona Lisa’ish expression…

But – regardless of what he did or did not do or believe in his life and how one might feel about it – the above quote hit me hard.

Hard I say.
Hard. Hard. Hard.

I am largely terrible at doing what I ought to do, when it ought to be done and whether I want to do it or not…  I procrastinate.  I hedge.  I hide behind other people.  I re-read emails and old short stories.  I make unnecessary phone calls when I’m not even in the mood to talk.

I clean something.  Anything.  Everything.

I picture giant ticking clocks above my head, resting on my shoulders and cry.  And cry and cry and cry.  I brainstorm and brainstorm and imagine and fantasize my way in and out of endless ideas that never find purchase.

I mire myself in endless loops of fear.

I embrace paralysis and numbness and eat too many gummy bears.

I have long made the claim that the most difficult thing in life is not GETTING what we want, but KNOWING what we want.  I have since added the notion that it isn’t even really KNOWING what we want so much as ADMITTING what we want that creates obstacles but – somehow – this quote bypasses all of this.

This quote seems to say:

Cut the shit.
Just. Cut. The. Damn. Shit.

You know what’s right. You know what’s needed – required- necessary. You’re clear. You’re ready, it’s ready – TIME itself is ready – just GET TO WORK.

I mean, T.H. Huxley might as well have worked for Nike during the height of the “Just Do It” campaign…

Add to that the depressing truth of how few people actually DO “do it”…  Whatever “it” is…  How right he is that it is the most important lesson and the one hardest and longest to learn and I’m not sure if I’m feeling inspired or depressed right now…

It’s not like I’ve never done the hard thing or done anything in a timely manner.

It’s just that it never feels like enough because it really isn’t ever enough and there really is a clock ticking.

And, frankly, some days there aren’t enough gummy bears in the land.



  1. There are never enough gummy bears, are there? But it seems there are an abundance of damn raisins.

  2. People say raisins are good for the body. I am very, very doubtful and would much rather eat a grape.

    (Assuming there are no gummy bears around, that is…)

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