The Lid to the Pickle Jar

Dear Dillon,

Be the second person who tries opening the lid to the pickle jar.*

Trust me. 

Watch what happens the next time your Nonnie tries opening a new pickle jar.

She’ll knock the lid on the edge of the countertop and twist.

She’ll wrap the lid in a dish towel and twist.

She’ll get out that flat circle plastic grippy thingy and twist.

Now, most of the time, she gets it open.

But, for the sake of this story, let’s assume she doesn’t.

And, let’s assume we’re over at her house for a family gathering.

If so, she wont even bother with those things, she’ll just call for help from your Uncle Sam.

Uncle Sam will come running.

I’ll tag along.

She’ll ask sweetly “Can you open this Sammy?”

He’ll grip the lid with one hand, hold the jar with the other hand and twist.

He’ll grit his teeth, contort his face and twist. 

He’ll arc his back, start cursing and twist.

And, at some point, his grip strength will leave him and he’ll have no other choice than to slide the jar on over to me.

I’ll grip the lid, twist and POP! 

The lid will come off.

Your Nonnie will happily thank me.

I’ll nonchalantly shrug my shoulders, say “You’re Welcome” and leave your Uncle Sam to rub the pain out of the palms of his hands.

Now, I know that we live in a “second is the first loser” kind of culture.

However, by being second, I got to impress your Nonnie with a display of otherworldly strength. 

In truth, I didn’t. I didn’t impress your Nonnie. And, I didn’t put on a display of otherworldly strength.

You see, your Uncle Sam did all of the heavy lifting.

His efforts broke the vacuum seal on the pickle jar.

I just twisted off the lid.

But, by being second, I got all of the glory.

Now, being the second person who tries opening the lid to the pickle jar is good advice for showing up your Uncle Sam; however, when it comes to living a life worth living, I feel like its wanting (hence the asterisk above).

You see, all that is good in this world was made possible by those who broke the vacuum seal of the status quo by being first.

And, all that will be good in this world will be made possible by those who break the vacuum seal of the status quo by being first.

Now, we will never know their names.

Their words will never be quoted.

Book will not be written about them.

Documentaries will not be produced about them.

Street signs, schools and airports will not be named after them. 

National holidays will not commemorate them.

These things are reserved for those who go second.

So, its tempting to position yourself to be the second at something. But, if we’re all busy trying to be second, then the status quo stays the status quo. And, right now, we need to shake some shit up.

So, ignore what I said earlier. 

Get practice doing the hard things that need to be done even though you know that you’ll never be recognized for doing them.

Be the first person who tries opening the lid to the pickle jar.


If you enjoyed this blog, you may enjoy my This is the Work newsletter.

Thanks. – shawn