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When I was an undergraduate at the University of Arkansas, an acquaintance gave me an anthology of essays from the world’s prominent philosophers. I occasionally read one of the essays. One day I came across a short essay from the writings of the Indian Brahmin philosopher, Rabindranath Tagore, who declared:

I slept and dreamed that life was joy. I awoke and found that life was duty. I acted and, behold ­­ duty is joy.

I shrugged my shoulders and thought to myself, “Yeah, sure!”

A decade later Ouida and I were working on our doctoral degrees at the University of Iowa, and we sublet an apartment for the summer. Taped to the refrigerator by the previous occupant was that exact quote. I read it every day, and by the end of the summer I said to myself, “Oh, I get it”—life is duty; so get to work and stop worrying about the joy. I looked for people who seemed to have fulfilled their duty and found four role models, all at Ouachita.