Nothing I Like To Do Pays Well

Josh Spilker
4 min readFeb 16, 2024

This article first appeared on my Substack! It’s more about books and culture than what I typically write about on Medium.

I was in a conversation the other night about identity and where we derive it from, and then the many parts of our identity.

The title of this post comes from Charles Portis, a novelist. I recently read a book from him and found that quote — “Nothing I like to do pays well.”

And I couldn’t help thinking that I derived a lot of my identity in my 20s by not having much money.

Like actively not having any or trying to get much.

That has changed (children! creature comforts!) but it was also a thing of simplicity for me.

A big influence on me was Richard Foster and his book on simplicity.

I re-read the Simplicity chapter in the Celebration of Discipline recently and it struck me how far off I was.

He doesn’t prescribe asceticism just for the legalism of it or as a point of pride.

Otherwise, you’re just like the hypocritical Pharisees letting everyone know how much they pray and how much they fast.

But there’s a real balance in caring for your family versus potentially making money the idol of all things.