You Are Your Work (and That’s a Good Thing)

Think of your professional life as a journey that begins with drudgery and ends with love

Sten Sootla
Human Parts

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Photo: Zero Creatives/Getty Images

TThere’s an exchange in the Estonian literary classic Truth and Justice that has always stayed with me. It’s a conversation between a farmer and his son, who is about to leave the family estate for a stint in the Imperial Russian Army. Even if he is gone for only a few years, serving in the army is no joke. Almost every village has examples of young, able men who have gone away, only to come back unable. Or who don’t come back at all.

One can, therefore, sympathize with the father, who was hoping to bequeath the farm to his son. For two decades, he has worked arduously, often to the point of collapse, to turn cheap swampland into flourishing acreage. And to an extent, he’s succeeded: While it’s not exactly thriving, the farm yields a respectable income, even employing a few farmhands.

Despite the farm’s prosperity, though, the work never stops. The father’s imagination for new projects seems to expand in proportion to the farm’s success. There are evermore bogs to be converted to fields of grain, roads to be paved, new houses to build, and old ones to renovate. With the old man now broken by the taxing work — at least in body, if not in spirit — it is his departing son who…

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Sten Sootla
Human Parts

Building robots by day, thinking hard how not to become one myself by night.