The Train Robber’s Regard

30 October 2023

In Monocle’s latest issue of the Monocle Companion Fifty Ideas for a Better World, Andrew Mueller briefly talks about his interview with Bono from U2 back in 2001. This is part of an essay titled Life hack’s from a hack’s life which you could say is a collection of tips for a better life as a freelance journalist.

The last in a ten-point list is Be grateful and even if the intent is a lesson for freelance journalists, it is also a rule for general living.

Mueller writes how in the wake of the September 11 attacks, the journalist was in New York interviewing Bono and after a long conversation, the U2 frontman made reference to what he calls the train robber’s regard for his fortune.

This is how Mueller remembers Bono describing it:

He still felt, he said, like every day was going to be the day that he would be told that he has been getting away with it for far too long, that the ride was over, that he should come out with his hands up. He also said that he never wanted to not feel like that.

We can easily rush to a sense of accomplishment and pat ourselves on the back when we’ve achieved a goal, but it is equally important to not take this for granted and remember the path that led us there. Remembering that there are also external factors at play here, luck being one of them, is a reminder that we are not entitled to any of this and that, to me, is one way of being grateful.