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Gratification In The Graft

Diriye Osman

Beloved reader,

I was chopping it up with my best friend and editor one evening on the blower, discussing sustainable ways to keep doing the work we do, which is a combination of labour-intensive cultural production and soulwork.

He suggested we scale back the pace with which we were generating these experiments. Tired, and with the smell of the day still heavy in my hair, I absentmindedly agreed with his suggestion, and after a few more minutes of blather, hung up the phone.

Then I sat up in the night and considered this concept of scaling back.

Beloved reader, contentment is king, but contentment isn't created in a vacuum: it is derived from having a sense of purpose, which is what differentiates the living from the dead, and fulfilling that purpose.

I know what spiritual death tastes like. It's similar to inertia, but really it's a full-bodied destabilisation whose closest cousin is drowning.

It is possible to drown a million times over in this too-short, mabuyu-sweet life without ever coming into contact with open water.

Even though my wallet is as empty as a politician's address to the people, I'm full. I'm content because I'm not only creating something of real personal value, but my modest creative output is of some use to at least ten other people (nine of whom are nosy aunties in Mogadishu, who are busy spying on my mundane shenanigans and feeling somewhat cheated that there's no meat to my maneno. They're even disappointed by my sexy stories, alas.)

There's no formula to any of this. You do what you love doing until you stop loving it, or until disease and death haul your ass away. That's it.

Beloved reader, I hope you're fortunate enough to feel so passionate about your calling that nothing — not naysayers or sciatica or psychosis or sleepless nights or financial stress — can keep you away from the pursuit of said calling.

I hope you stay hungry and boundless until you become completely undeniable to yourself. I hope you find gratification in your graft, especially when the going gets grimy.

Let us always feed the fire.

With love,



Song to galvanize the soul: 'Work To Do' by THE ISLEY BROTHERS.


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