Once, a very long time ago, a follower of Jesus drew a sword in order to defend his prophet against the Romans, only to be summarily rebuked.
Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.
Book of Matthew, verse 26:52
Jesus was no sissy; he knew to live a life of violence meant dying at the hands of violence. He also knew that to live the life of a prophet meant dying the death of a prophet. But sometimes that’s what must be done. To “Live by the sword and Die by the sword” doesn’t necessarily need to be in a morbid sense. Rather, it merely reflects the occasional truth that our choices in life often directly affect our destiny.
I got sick my last week in India. It only lasted a couple of days, but it wasn’t pretty, and over the course of the following week I lost 5-10 lbs. Much of the worst of it was spent within 20 feet of a bathroom, watching Hindi music videos on a small, barely functioning television. I don’t know specifically what caused it, but I wouldn’t have changed any of my habits.
I ate and drank whatever I felt like the entire time I was in India, and it was the sweetest thing in the world. The cost of that sickness was worth it. We ate food on trains, from street vendors, ate pastries from generous hosts, drank chai with taxi-wallahs and milk coffee with businessmen. For 7 weeks, I ran around the sub-continent as if my stomach were invincible. If I was constantly scared about getting sick, I would have had to limit myself to a tiny subset of what I ended up experiencing. I would have paid more money for much more boring food. For me, the pain of those two days of being holed up in Varanasi was paid for a thousand times over by the pleasure of being free.
Our choices in life affect our outcomes, and my choices about what I ate in India directly affected my digestive system. I made that choice, and I don’t regret it.
But India was not why I was reminded of this proverb. I was reminded of this proverb because of the occasional intellectual agony my job puts me through when I actually have to sit down and do it.
It would be easy to complain about how much I’ve worked in these last two weeks, or even how much I’ve worked in the last 24 hours. My travel based, free form lifestyle let’s me do whatever I want the grand majority of the time, and in exchange I pay a pound of flesh roughly every 2-3 months.
Live by the flexible work schedule, die by the flexible work schedule. If that’s the price, I pay it gladly.