Don’t force anything, he said. Let it come naturally. If you have to think about it, then it’ll come out wrong, the old man said. That’s the problem; too much forcing. Trying to put a circle in a square. It just doesn’t work, he told the younger man seated next to him. The harder you try, the worse it gets, he motioned for the bartender to set up another round. There’s nothing wrong with hard work. It’s just when the hard work doesn’t work, you gotta a problem, he downed his whiskey, tapped the shot glass, and motioned for another.

The young man looked at the old man’s hands. Wrinkled and lined. Calloused. Black underneath nails. He laughed.

What’s so funny?

Your hands, the kid said. All they’ve ever known was forced work. Look at mine, he stuck out his hands, fingertips pointing to the sky. These hands are clean. Never had a scratch. They’re pure white. The nails evenly trimmed. I’ve never had to force anything. Smooth, he said. Notice how my ring slides off and on. No forcing. No forcing.

I see, the old man grabbed the kid’s hands. Things have come easy for you. Not a matter of skill or brains. Just luck. There will come a time when you’ll think you have to force. And you’ll get nervous. But, don’t.

Have you forced? Am I right about that?

Look at me, the old man said. What do you think? You learn as you get older.

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