Monday, September 04, 2006

A Labor of Love

Well here it is Labor Day and I actually labored a bit. Actually most of the labor on this project was completed a week ago or so, but I wrapped things up today and sent off my review. I am currently on the editorial board for the International Journal of Sport Science and Coaching and this is my second paper review. The review process for this journal is open, so the author knows who the reviewers are and the publication acknowledges us as well.

This review was quite challenging for me, as I had to review a paper submitted by a former mentor and noted expert in weightlifting/strength & conditioning--someone who no longer wishes to collaborate professionally. How to constructively criticize someone who taught you much of what you know, how you think about and view the very topic addressed in the paper? How to criticize someone who has been the editor of a journal himself? I could hear every phrase in the paper as I read it, as I'd heard them a thousand times before. The topic was near and dear to my heart; part of me was in that text. But it could be better. How to tell someone considered an expert he can, he must be better?

The process was scary and exhilarating at the same time. I learned so much about my own writing style and how to make it better by having the opportunity to review this work. I could see how my own ideas and teaching methods have evolved over the last 6 years. I could see how to make the paper better, and I said what I thought, as frankly and professionally as possible. Most importantly, this endeavor reinforced my belief that I DO have something worthwhile to contribute to the world of strength & conditioning. And I said, and say them with love.

On that note, I'll leave you with a passage brought to my attention by Pamela Slim of the blog Escape from Cubicle Nation.

by Kahlil Gibran

On Work

Then a ploughman said, Speak to us of Work.
And he answered, saying:
You work that you may keep pace with the earth and the soul of the earth.
For to be idle is to become a stranger unto the seasons, and to step out of life's procession, that marches in majesty and proud submission towards the infinite.
When you work you are a flute through whose heart the whispering of the hours turns to music.
Which of you would be a reed, dumb and silent, when all else sings together in unison?
Always you have been told that work is a curse and labour a misfortune.
But I say to you that when you work you fulfill a part of the earth's furthest dream, assigned to you when that dream was born,
And in keeping yourself with labour you are in truth loving life,
And to love life through labour is to be intimate with life's inmost secret.
But if you in your pain you call birth an affliction and the support of the flesh a curse written upon your brow, then I answer that naught but the sweat of your brow shall wash away that which is written.
You have been told also that life is darkness, and in your weariness you echo what was said by the weary.
And I say that life is indeed darkness save when there is urge,
And all urge is blind save when there is knowledge,
And all knowledge is vain save when there is work,
And all work is empty save when there is love;
And when you work with love you bind yourself to yourself, and to one another, and to God.
And what is it to work with love?
It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart, even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth.
It is to build a house with affection, even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house.
It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy, even as if your beloved were to eat the fruit.
It is to charge all things you fashion with a breath of your own spirit,
And to know that all the blessed dead are standing about you and watching.
Often I have heard you say, as if speaking in sleep, "He who works in marble, and finds the shape of his own soul in the stone, is nobler than he who ploughs the soil.
And he who seizes the rainbow to lay it on a cloth in the likeness of man, is more than he who makes the sandals for our feet."
But I say, not in sleep but in the over-wakefulness of noontide, that the wind speaks no more sweetly to the giant oaks than to the least of all blades of grass;
And he alone is great who turns the voice of the wind into a song made sweeter by his own loving.
Work is love made visible.
And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy. For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man's hunger. And if you grudge the crushing of the grapes, your grudge distills a poison in the wine. And if you sing though as angels, and love not the singing, you muffle man's ears to the voices of the day and the voices of the night.

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