Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell. Edward Abbey

03 February 2009

If you work, you cannot dream

Young people should never work. Those who work cannot dream; and wisdom comes to us in dreams. You ask me to sell your product. Shall I sell my soul? You ask me to stay at my desk and build the organisation. It makes me feel empty. Then when I die I shall be but a shell of a real person. You ask me to sell my minutes, hours and days for little pieces of paper? I don't want them. I don't want to be rich. I want to be wealthy and wise.

"My Young men shall never work. Men who work cannot dream; and wisdom comes to us in dreams. You ask me to plow the ground. Shall I take a knife and tear my mother's breast? Then when I die she will not take me to her bosom to rest. You ask me to dig for stone. Shall I dig under her skin for her bones? Then when I die I cannot enter her body to be born again. You ask me to cut grass and make hay and sell it and be rich like white men. But how dare I cut off my mother's hair?" - Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce


  1. Anonymous3:44 pm

    "If you work you cannot dream." This platitude does not go over well in our society. I have taken a lot of crap for using it. They say one of the reasons writers and artists that lived in New York City's Greenwich Village in the first part of the last century were so prolific was because the economy there was such that they didn't have to hold jobs to exist. Consequently they had the energy and time to follow their muse and create.

  2. Anonymous11:08 pm

    Like many poems, the words should not be taken literally. The message means you should love your work, and you should be at play with it. For only then you can dream.

  3. I really appreciate the comment by anonymous 1 and will have to explore artistic life in Greenwich Village in the early 1900s.

    Regarding the comment by anonymous 2, that is just disingenuous. Tell Walmart workers or Foxconn workers (essentially slave labour) that they should love their work, then they can dream. I mean really. I have friends who work in the "retail business", their hours are insane, 7 to 7 (with half an hour lunch) for 6 days of the week, with 1 day off, then back to the grindstone. That is not a life.

  4. Anonymous1:48 pm

    "If you work you cannot dream." You are working when you are unhappy with your job; you are at play when you love your job.