It's been really interesting to read people's different interpretations of the brick-carrying story. When I read it first, it struck such a chord with me that I thought there was obviously only one interpretation of it, which is why I didn't elaborate any further when I first posted it. But the comments that followed it made me re-think my first impression. So, here's the story again (this time without the typing mistakes) and below is what I think it's saying:Imagine a happy group of morons who are engaged in work. They are carrying bricks in an open field. As soon as they have stacked all the bricks at one end of the field, they proceed to transport them to the opposite end. This continues without stop and everyday of every year they are busy doing the same thing. One day one of the morons stops long enough to ask himself what he is doing. He wonders what purpose there is in carrying the bricks. And from that instant on he is not quite as content with his occupation as he had been before.I am the moron who wonders why he is carrying the bricks.
Forget for a moment the fact that it's an extract from a suicide note - that kind of detail adds unnecessary weight and gravitas that I don’t think the author intended. I really like the style of it, and the fact that the message is stated so simply, but apparently still open to great realms of interpretation.
What it says to me is that, the moment you start looking around and trying to improve your lot in life - whether it’s day dreaming about winning the lottery, trying to get another stupid degree, aiming for a promotion, trying to get your television show commissioned, attempting a career change, hoping to conceive, even just planning a day out while banking on good weather - the moment you start using optimism and forward thinking in your planning for your immediate or long-term future, that’s when you open the door to all sorts of problems you had never even considered before.
I know of many people who get paid a lot less than I do for doing a lot more work than I have to. I know other people who had to take courses and gain qualifications to do the crummy job that I do. I know still others who have tried and failed to get a job like I have, who would give their right arms (not literally, that would make the job very difficult and even more - no pun intended - out of their reach). And five years ago, I was really content to be doing what I do for a living, and saw no reason to change it, because carrying the rocks from one end of the field to the other filled my days and weeks and I wanted for nothing more.
But then I started looking around and decided that I didn’t want to be in a position where I was always answering to someone else, where if they had a bad day, that meant I had a bad day. I didn’t want people to be uninterested in, or even disappointed with, my answer to the question “what do you do?” I hated the assumptions that people made about me, I hated their sudden reassessments of both my intellect and my general worth as a person. I, in short, suddenly didn’t want to be carrying bricks any more.
And I wish that hadn’t happened. There are people in the world, people in this country, people in this city and certainly people within a one-mile radius of where I’m currently sitting and whinging that would love to be where I am right now, have the things that I have and would never want for anything more. And that pisses me off too.
In short, that’s what that story says to me. In the bleakest possible interpretation, I think that it says you’ve got to be happy with your lot and you should settle down with what you have. You shouldn’t expect to get any more, and you certainly shouldn’t hope for it. Be a moron, carry the bricks and never look up to see what else is on the horizon, because for a brick carrying moron, there is nothing else. The story says to me that unless you keep your head down and keep carrying, you will never be happy again.
But that’s just my interpretation.