Retirement is the ugliest word in the language, reckoned Hemingway, and Richie McCaw might just agree.
The end of McCaw's transcendent career is near - the Eden Park win against Australia was celebrated as his final test on New Zealand - and the All Black captain admits he still has no idea what follows.
Having made a career out of playing without fear, the 34-year-old admits there is something unsettling about what comes next.
"Part of [retiring] scares you a little bit. I've done the same thing for so many years," he says from Christchurch, where he is enjoying some rare time off before the All Blacks go into camp at the end of the month.
"To all of a sudden be having to figure out something else to do is a bit daunting.
"Conversely, a lot of people at this age change careers. It's a big decision that they don't have to make, but they choose to. The only difference is it comes to us whether we want to or not."
McCaw says he is lucky to have played the game he loves for as long as he has "but it was always going to come to an end at some point. When that comes there'll be something else I'm sure - it's a bit of a double-edged one really. There's no doubt when you start having to watch a few games, I'll miss it like hell".
Exactly when that time comes, he doesn't know for sure. He's pretty sure he won't play in 2016, but then again...
"I haven't shut the door totally because I wasn't sure how I'd feel come the end of October. I really wanted to make sure I didn't get caught up in the 'it's your last game here, last game there' stuff.
"The door is open a little bit but I just want to concentrate on what I'm doing now and get a bit of separation after the World Cup."
One thing McCaw has already committed to is the iSPORT Foundation, a charity founded by McCaw and long-time All Black teammates Dan Carter and Ali Williams.
The organisation works with schools and sporting bodies to identify talented individuals, teams or sporting organisations that need a bit of extra assistance and will get a boost when the three appear in Auckland for 'An Evening with Richie McCaw, Dan Carter and Friends' next Wednesday.
iSPORT is the evolution of the For Everyone Charitable Foundation, which was built on the back of bottled water sales.
"It [funded] a pretty broad range of things, but when we had a sort through of the applications we were getting we could see there was a need on the sports side of things.
"The three of us were getting towards the end of our careers and looked at how we could give a bit back to sport, and that's why we changed it to iSPORT and changed the focus and the scope of it."
The foundation targets the 12-18 age bracket, where drop-off in sports participation is at its sharpest. Grants are anywhere between $500 and $5000.
"If we can give a little helping hand and encourage them to continue, that's pretty satisfying."
McCaw says that while New Zealand is a lot more fortunate than many parts of the world, "it's not a 100 per cent level playing field" in terms of opportunity.
If they can help a team that might be struggling for funding to get to a tournament, that could have a big knock-on effect if one of the players gets recognised by talent scouts or makes a rep team.
"Hopefully, when we get a bit more time, we'll start see that a little help can go a long way and we'll start seeing some stars."
On Saturday, McCaw became the most-capped player in test history with 142 games. He has cemented a reputation as the most influential player of his generation and arguably the finest player New Zealand has ever produced.
Having never put a foot wrong off the field, he will also qualify as our most revered.
He won a World Cup on a broken foot and if he lifts the Webb Ellis Cup again in a couple of months, there will be no end to Richie McMania.
There will be an investiture and, according to fanboy Prime Minister John Key, a fast track to Parliament.
"No, no. I've got to say I don't think that would be for me," McCaw says.
"I'm probably like everyone and have an interest... from afar.
"I'd hate to get in amongst that, I reckon. I'm quite happy just watching."
Through all the worship, McCaw has always remained level-headed.
You sense that the roar of the crowd, like the one he received when he left Eden Park for the final time as an All Black on Saturday, has always been enough.
He could have made a stack more money playing in France, but the reason he played the game was to represent his country and the thought of willingly handing over the black No7 prevented such flights of fancy.
Nobody would begrudge him if he cashed in for one more season somewhere...anywhere?
"It's highly unlikely," he says.
In a preview piece for the upcoming NFL season, a reporter asked New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis - one of the greatest defensive players to have played American football - what was the one piece of advice he would give to a young player.
"Maximise your worth," he said.
"As soon as you step foot in the NFL, the window is closing."
It is not, you suspect, advice McCaw would give to aspiring All Blacks or sportsmen or women of any code.
It is not, we can say with absolute assurance, advice he has ever followed himself.
Your chance to win
We're giving away two tickets for 'Vogel's presents an evening with Richie McCaw, Dan Carter and friends', at Auckland's Vector Arena, next Wednesday, August 26.
The pair will speak live about their journey to the Rugby World Cup at the exclusive black tie event in aid of their iSport Foundation.
Tickets include a VIP pre-dinner cocktail function with celebrities and guests, and a four-course banquet with matching wines and premium beers.
Each ticket is worth more than $400. For more details visit ducoevents.co.nz.
To be in to win a pair of tickets, email your name, cellphone number and the answer to the following question to our newsroom:
Entries close 8am on Monday, August 24. So get in the draw today!