“If you can solve that problem, I’ll crawl through a mile of pig shit just to shake your hand, Devin.”
He said it on the first meeting, a potential new client. The four of us on the call from our end, Devin included, lost it.
Clearly, it was a match made in google meet heaven.
His picture was so visual. His pain so acute. His problem so profound. That he’d be willing to suffer through 5,280 feet of pig feces to meet the man who found a solution.
My memory is faint, which means I’ve maybe made it up entirely, but as a little boy, I recall one of my uncles who used to raise (mainly read as WORK) hogs.
Every branch above me on each side of my family tree has worked harder physically than I will ever know, this uncle is no exception.
As much as I always cherished my time there, and benefitted from watching him work, I couldn’t ever reconcile the stench.
“How in the world do they endure this smell?”
“Is it always like this?”
“I wonder if you grow used to it, because I’m sure as hell not?”
You know that on the edge of the stomach half-gag, half-dry heave kind of feeling when you take an unexpected inhale of something nasty?
You know the one.
Where one more strong sniff will lead to tossed cookies?
The warm, steaming, hot, stench was brutal for me.
Damn city boy.
All these years and lessons later, as much as I wish it weren’t the way, it seems most things worth pursuing look and smell much more like a mile of steaming pig shit than a paved road to perfection.
The road of progress is marked with sadness and suffering.
The journey of success is laced with trials and travesty.
The path of discovery is littered with objections and obstacles.
But perhaps, in the middle of the mile, when we’re tempted to toss our cookies and turn around, is precisely when it’s time to keep going.
Through the fear.
Through the stench.
Through the pain.
Through the suffering.
Through the chaos.
Through the anxiety.
Through the dismantling.
And into the freedom that awaits.
Through the pig-shitty problems seem to be the place we arrive to shake the hands of those seers and sojourners ahead of us on the path.
Just long enough for a big stench-free exhale before the next mile we must traverse, half-gagging, half-dry heaving.
But fully expecting the reward that will be waiting on the other side.