I do like to be organised. Not that I always am, but it always helps to have a system. The lovely feeling of having things in order, under control and organised is great. I don’t think that I am alone in liking a nice, ordered way of things, the Dewey decimal system helps with organising non-fiction books, each week there is the Top 40 to let us know which singles have sold best, there are rules for driving so we know that people on the left have priority at roundabouts, league tables tell us which sports teams are best, and very little about how good a school is. We like order. We like control.
Can we always have order though? Or are we always going to have systems that will let us down Are we going to have to accept that we are not in full control. One story about control is that of King Canute
The story is that Canute ordered his chair to be taken to the beach, sat there and ordered the waves not to break on the shore. Which of course they did, and he ended up with wet feet. There is a bit of debate about whether he was trying to prove he could command the sea to do his bidding, or whether he was deliberately showing that he could not. Whatever his motivation, he showed that there are some things that you cannot control.
So what do we do when we have so many things that are out of our control? We can’t stop the tide from coming in, so where does this leave us? This brings me to another beach side story, a story is of starfish, adapted from Star Thrower by Loren C. Eiseley.
A young girl was walking along a beach upon which thousands of starfish had been washed up during a terrible storm. When she came to each starfish, she would pick it up, and throw it back into the ocean. People watched her with amusement.She had been doing this for some time when a man approached her and said, “Little girl, why are you doing this? Look at this beach! You can’t save all these starfish. You can’t begin to make a difference!”The girl seemed crushed, suddenly deflated. But after a few moments, she bent down, picked up another starfish, and hurled it as far as she could into the ocean. Then she looked up at the man and replied,“Well, I made a difference to that one!”
- Making a difference.. (mythologystories.wordpress.com)
- Rebirth of the Viking warship that may have helped Canute conquer the seas (whitenewsnow.com)
- Melvil Dewey and the classification of knowledge (sciencelens.wordpress.com)