If time is not flowing in the smooth, mellow and scenic way that one would want it to, if the whole idea of continuing in the same way has begun to seem dull and uninteresting, if one more obstacle in the way threatens to end the journey, if one is enmeshed in a web of spoiled relationships that threaten to slip carelessly away, if hollow, insecure, bitter, petty aims and feelings threaten to take over one's mind, it is time to dig deep, make a stand, show some fiber, scavenge some defiance from those ruins, summon some pride, find that courage, and after having done all that, with the comfort of having arrayed all that you have around you, show some restraint.
For it is not always doing what one can and saying what one might, that add to a man. Often it is not doing what one could have, leaving clever words unsaid, that remove bitterness and add peace. Any random obnoxious fool can call a spade a spade, but it is a wise man who will leave it alone, give it the benefit of the doubt, and save himself the anguish that invariably goes with trying to say things as they are, because all too often, they are not.
The title, intended to signify dogged defiance and adherence to personal beliefs in circumstances of great adversity, comes from a brilliant passage from Joseph Conrad's "The Nigger of the Narcissus". The ship has half overturned in a terrible gale, and has somehow stabilized in that position. The sailors are all lashed to the deck. The winds are icy cold and the rain continuous, and the men have been that position for days. They are dying from the exposure. The cook, an extremely eccentric religious man, suddenly lets go of his support, and precariously begins to make his way to the galley. The bewildered sailors are shocked, hoarse and weak voices ask him just what the hell does he think he is doing. With a strange light in his eye, his ragged clothes flapping in the wind, he cries out "As long as she swims I will cook !" Unbelieving men say that he is mad, "I will get ye some coffee" says he "Till she swims, I will cook !” A weak and pitiful cheer goes round the desperate company, "Cook ye are a gent!" cry hard men with tears in their long suffering eyes, "Till she swims I will cook !" he cries again and disappears with a bound.
The situation loses a lot in my rendering of it. I had tears in my eyes when I read the book.
"As long as she swims, I will cook !”