THERE I WAS, TYING AN intricate bit of decorative knotwork in the Golden Hinde II‘s hold, and feeling more than a little proud of myself. I was then just a beginner at that sort of thing, and the glow of self-regard was warming my busy hands.
Comes the captain, a grizzled veteran of a hundred-and-one voyages in a hundred-and-one vessels, to peer over my shoulder. I paused, waiting for him to tell me how grand was my creation.
“That’s what it’s supposed to look like,” he said gruffly, and walked on.
To say I was crestfallen would be an understatement. I had worked for hours on that thing, and he didn’t seem to appreciate it.
I sought comfort in the ship’s mate, who looked me in the eye and said, “Don’t you understand? He means you’re doing it properly.”
His words snapped me out of my self-absorbed funk — doing something right is, after all, the highest achievement one can hope for. Beyond that lofty goal, what’s left?