This Is Your Apprenticeship

You start one day knowing nothing, then wonder how it is you arrived. You don’t need to know how it happens; just put your head down…

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You start one day knowing nothing, then wonder how it is you arrived. You don’t need to know how it happens; just put your head down, serve your time.

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All of a sudden, there I was.

Thirty blokes sitting in the lounge waiting for the meeting to start. Every one of them fresh-faced and uncorrupted, and me, and maybe one or two others, who had been on there for ten years.

We were the older ones now. The experienced ones. The ones towards which the new boys looked.

It happens that way in everything I have found.

Drawing, writing, running, gardening, lifting weights, running a business, it’s all the same thing.

I call it daily work.

One day you start, and you’re the fool, the novice, the gilly.

You’re in it, and you’re doing it, and you don’t give a second’s thought to how good or bad you are at it, where you’re going or what you’ll get out of it.

You’re just doing it.

You’re taking guidance from the older ones, and you’re learning the ropes.

Then one day you realise that all this time has passed and now you’re the one they look to for guidance.

The interim is your apprenticeship.

It’s where you wasted time trying things that didn’t work.

It’s where you were laughed at and ridiculed, and sent for skyhooks.

It’s where you tried shortcuts that backfired.

It’s where you cut your teeth, cut your hands and broke your bones.

It’s where you learned to know it in its entirety, its front and back, its inside and its out.

It’s where you misunderstood it; it’s where you thought you were in charge.

It’s where you thought you knew the game.

It’s where you thought you had the devil by the tail only he turned on you just the same.

As you smiled, your premature smile, like the fool of fools.

It’s where you bled, sweated, and cried, and nobody gave a fuck — bad luck.

It’s where you screamed in the mirror.

It’s where you lost yourself.

It’s where you lost everything.

It’s where sunshine and light became darkness and you were tested beyond your apparent extremes.

It’s where at the end there was just a mere sliver of what was there before, enough perhaps to retake root.

And you did, in it.

Then it became you, and you became it.

It’s where you both merged and you discovered you weren’t lost after all.

It’s where the apprenticeship ended.

There’s no time in the game. There’s no time at all, only now, a place out of which we can say we continuously emerge.

There’s nothing lost in the game.

I planted tomato seeds before. They did well all year round in the tall window in our kitchen.

As I watched them sprout, I thought, there must be some pain in this for them.

There must be a difficulty as they absorb the nutrients from the soil and burst forth from the husk of the seed pod.

Like a child being born.

The tomato plant doesn’t cry about it. At least I don’t hear it crying.

It doesn’t seek therapy. It doesn’t have goals and aspirations — it just does what it does.

I think that’s the biggest problem with human beings; we don’t want to put into it, that which is necessary to grow.

We want to be there, all pretty and loaded on bright shiny things, smiley-faced and looking good, but we don’t want to feel any pain.

For fuck sake, pain is part of the process!

All our goal setting, all our advice seeking, all our unwillingness to make mistakes is robbing us of the entire experience.

We think we are something, that’s our problem.

The apprenticeship has to be served, and we must get comfortable with being uncomfortable and take our mind off the clock.

You’re going to fuck it up, so deal with it.

Serve your time.

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