I hated my last job. It was supposed to open doors and turn me into one of Tom Wolfe’s Masters of the Universe. But I couldn’t do it. For the first time in my life, I sized up a life goal, went for it, and found myself horribly lacking. Now, I don’t cotton to Camus’ belief that Sisyphus was a hero for striving to roll his rock up hill, knowing it was pointless, and doing it anyways, but I have never had anything but contempt for quitters. As I was doorknocking in Austin in a suit while it was 100 degrees out, I kept focusing on a nature metaphor that we see all the time. Magestic salmon swim miles against the current to go reproduce. We applaud their effort because we see that they reach a goal and it validates the effort. I quit the day I realized I wasn’t in a stream. I was in an Endless Pool.
Aesop had a fable about the wisdom of Sisyphisean effort: The Oak and the Reed. The two plants have a competition over who can better withstand the wind. The oak fights with all its might, and is blown over because of his resistance. The resilient reed bends to the wind and survives. The part Aesop doesn’t mention is that no one stop to admire a reed.
The reed withstood wind that would fell an oak,
But when does bowing become bend and scrape?
Enlightened men from hurricanes escape
To find shelter when their backs creak and croak.
Did they kiss the dirt? Stop? Stand to be broke?
It’s the true slave that stands with mouth agape
While the man free in mind tries to escape.
Fear the dead fish that floats to rot and soak.
Stand up and cheer. Not for Aesop’s hero
Who bows to the tickle of a light breeze.
Only from great height can we be brought low
Man cannot stand head bent low to appease.
None will admire the height a reed grows.