Covenant: Carry Your Own Water, Cook Your Own Food

Continuing with the long-interrupted series considering the fundamental understandings behind effective work, the personal covenants forged between the worker and his work that seem to enable effective contribution. ... Where do these originate? Some are personal discoveries. Others get whispered from father to son, mother to child, mentor to aspirant, and stick. Those unfortunate enough to not carry their covenants, whatever they are (and these I present in this series represent no universal exemplary set), find themselves luffing in the wind. Their work does not sustain them because they do not sustain themselves.

Carry Your Own Water, Cook Your Own Food refers to more than toting and frying. It relates to a self-sufficiency, responsible for its own sustenance, not dependent upon servants, slaves, or supplicants to tend to basic needs.

Whatever the water you drink, you must collect and carry this water before you can consume it. Drink trickles before accumulating into quenching quantities. The greatest thirsts parch far from any fountain.

Whatever nourishes you needs your hand on the spatula. Nourishment never comes ready-made, but demands some personal preparation. If you can't cook for yourself, you'll have to settle for raw or leftovers or someone else's sensibilities flavoring the sauce. None of these sustain.

Those eternally inconvenienced by the hassle of simply maintaining life might benefit from understanding that these struggles are not simply optional extra charges, but the very stuff of life itself. We each carry our own water and every one of us eventually understands that we just have to cook our own food. Let the dependency extend from the clay pit to the potter, but no further; from the farmer to the frying pan, but not beyond. The cup carrying what will cut your thirst and the fork transporting what will slake your hunger are yours and yours alone to manage.

I speak metaphorically, of course. Your cup and my cup might carry nothing remotely similar, yet we each find pride in our little ritual, inherited from our fathers and mothers, deeply personal, and just as essentially social. The soul of positive self esteem lives very near the most inane activities; carrying our own water, cooking our own food.


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