I can almost measure my life in pretzels. Pretzel sticks, sourdough pretzels, covered pretzels. I have had the great fortune of being able to try almost every variety of pretzels, and each one holds for me something special. It is neither the salt nor the dough alone, but the scintillating combination of the two, that never fails to make me smile.
When I think of a career that I could spend my life in, the usual images pop up: annoying clients, 401 k rollovers, car insurance, frivolous lawsuits. From medicine to art to business to prostitution it is impossible to avoid the constant demands made by random people who think they know what they're doing. It takes 30 or 40 years of school, internships and poorly paying jobs to get the experience necessary for people to trust you enough that you can work on your own terms, and by that point most of the creativity has already been sucked out of you. Is it possible to find a job that both lets you express yourself and lets you keep your soul?
If you've ever been to New York City in the summer, you've seen the corner concession stands selling everything from roasted nuts to knishes and the colorful characters that run them. Well, I see only two things: men with a purpose and their delectably salty pretzels. Every one of those men's sole purpose is to nourish you so that you can carry on with your miserable, downtrodden life with the hopes that maybe, just maybe, you will find true happiness. They give you your pretzel, they give you your change, and they wish you good luck for the rest of your happy, bepretzeled life. Everything else is out of their control. You could throw away the pretzel in disgust, you could sit on a park bench and savor every tantalizingly soft morsel, you could stab someone in the eye with it: it doesn't matter to the pretzelman. The pretzelman delights in giving the pretzels, and nothing more.
The pretzelman doesn't do it for the money. In fact, the pretzelman would do it for free. But if you saw a man giving out free pretzels on the corner, you would probably call the police. The pretzelman is wise enough to charge you for the pretzel, so that you might recognize that a pretzel has value and thusly give it the respect that it deserves.
And when there are no customers, the pretzelman has many ways to occupy his time. Besides the never-ending task of making more pretzels, the pretzelman can meditate or watch the hapless passersby. Or maybe even read a book.
I want to be that man, so free from the hassles of everyday life. Who wants to be a doctor? Doctors have shorter life expectancies than patients. Who wants to be a programmer? All you get is obesity and carpal tunnel. Artists spend their lives trying to be accepted by society (or starving). Mathematicians think they've found the truth, but they've really just found more Greek letters. The pretzelman does nothing. He offers his pretzels and sometimes people take them, and that's it. I want to be that man.