Sometimes you do the work and the work kicks your teeth in. Then, on the good days, you smile a bloodied and toothless smile, lay your head down, and go to sleep so you can do it again tomorrow.
The Old Man And The Sea has long been one of my favorite books. When I read it as a teenager I thought it was about noble stubbornness. “I can do that,” I thought.
I re-read it in my 20s and thought it was about noble purpose. “Loving the craft for the craft” and all that journeyman stuff.
Then I re-read it in my 30s and thought “Maybe there’s no metaphor, it’s just a guy and a fish, but they each have to do their thing. They each have to play their part and it’s the characters that make the story. That’s kind of life I guess.”
Now I’m fast approaching my 40s and Dave Trott drops this clip (from The Equaliser, see below) and this post (“The Old Man And The Metaphor) and I’m a little scared.
Here’s where I’m at with the idea:
Do it your way. But love the work for the work and not just the result. And while you still can, bring the fish home. When you can’t anymore, you can still do the work, but it’s OK if your understanding of the reward changes. As the quality of your work evolves, so does the arc of the reward. It’s natural. Accept it.
You’re not dead until you can’t do the work anymore. The reward is whatever you want the reward to be. Do it Hemingway.