So, recently I had one of those interconnected things where I read an article that reminded me of one book I had loved and then it connected me to another book I had read.
Let’s start with the first book. It was Sweet Season by Austin Murphy–and it was one of the best sports books I have ever read. Murphy is the real deal. He wrote for Sports Illustrated, which in the day was the best sportswriting (and among the best writing) available anywhere.
Murphy was spending his time interviewing prima donna athletes in strip clubs and feeling kind of icky about it. So, he went and spent the year with his family in Collegeville, MN at St. John’s College.
St. John’s is a DIII school where your professor is probably a monk. They were coached by John Gagliardi, a legend in college coaching. Gagliardi had many odd tactics, including never cutting anyone from the team and never blocking or tackling during practice.
Murphy talks to the monks, talks to real student-athletes, follows their season and reflects on his life. It’s like Season on the Brink except there’s no brink. It’s an excellent book that will make you feel good and teach you something about whatever you do in your life.
So, over Christmas, I was reading something online and I ran across this article by Austin Murphy.
It is the same guy. After my initial shock, I read the article. The upshot is that SI downsized, he wasn’t making enough money freelancing. So, went to Indeed and got a job delivering packages.
He relays how he is ashamed to go to a holiday party and tell people what he is doing. I think most people can identify. You think…I could lose my job, and work at Starbucks and have to serve people I formally worked with. The disgrace! The embarrassment! I would be completely miserable.
That’s how we see it. And yet, that’s not how it felt when it happened.
When I’m in a rhythm, and my system’s working, and I slide open the side door and the parcel I’m looking for practically jumps into my hand, and the delivery takes 35 seconds and I’m on to the next one, I enjoy this gig. I like that it’s challenging, mentally and physically. As with the athletic contests I covered for my old employer, there’s a resolution, every day. I get to the end of my route, or I don’t. I deliver all the packages, or I don’t.
Which connects the second book, Stumbling on Happiness by Dan Gilbert. The point of his book is exactly this. When we have something good we want, we overestimate how good it will make us feel. Life has a regression to the mean effect. Other things come up. You worry about new things. Your real happiness in that future state–even when achieved–will never pay off the promise.
The same thing works in reverse for the downsides of life. We think we would be miserable if we lost our job. Had a severe injury and became disabled. We think life would be unlivable. But Gilbert former Speaker Jim Wright to show that not only are you not miserable but, in the case of Wright, you are happier. We have a coping mechanism that levels out the decline. Good things in life still exist and some bad things are gone.
Murphy’s story is exactly that example.
Anyway, that’s one of the great things about reading, when two ships dock in your head.