Butterflies and Straws

I do like to keep up with a schedule of creating a new blog every week. Sometimes there are so many words in my head that they are screaming to get out. Other times … Oh well. On that vein, this is my 75th weekly anniversary and I thank all my readers for reading because the writing is good for me. 

Why the title?

The idiom the straw that broke the camel's back, alluding to the Arab proverb "it is the last straw that breaks the camel's back", describes the seemingly minor or routine action which causes an unpredictably large and sudden reaction, because of the cumulative effect of small actions (Wikipedia).

A single straw is not a great burden, but start with one and keep adding one until…. OR..  You blow up at a small indiscretion by your active teenager after weeks of many small indiscretions…OR... One grey hair that is hardly noticeable gradually multiplies until…. OR ...One drop of water at a time will create a great ocean.

 A great ocean. -The Atlantic Ocean

Simon Winchester, in his book Atlantic (2010), writing about his first ocean voyage at the age of 18,  “The one small moment that I remember more vividly than perhaps it deserves, and which took place while we were lying stopped in the shallow Atlantic waters off Flemish Cap” (350 miles east of St. John's).  

I summarized this part (after all this is a blog, not a novel). The ship stopped with nothing in sight.  A motor boat was launched. A Canadian Airforce plane flew low overhead and dropped a package near the motor boat.  The package, that contained emergency medication for a sick passenger, was retrieved and brought back to the ship.  

He continues, “A trivial maritime incident, occasioning no more than a negligible delay in our arrival in Montreal two days later.  But it was an event that has remained with me ever since.... It was an augury of sorts…”

One of my defining moments was much less exciting than Mr. Winchester’s.  Third grade in elementary school was the site of the beginnings of my psycho/social revolution. It all happened because of a stick of gum.  It was indoor recess during inclement weather. A friend offered me a piece of gum. I accepted casually.   A short time later, I was struck with such fear that one could only describe it as a true anxiety attack.  According to the religious precepts with which I had been raised, there were no treats allowed on this day.  According to my simplified, childish understanding of right-and-wrong, God was going to strike me dead instantly because of my mistake.  Well, nothing happened.  That got me thinking about what God should reasonably expect from people. What things are really important?  What makes a person good? What makes some apparently religious people bad? Seventy years later, I’m still thinking.  Was the stick of gum a straw?  Maybe. 

Continued next week with Butterflies and Husband

Betty Ago



Betty is a real person who resides in one of our Brookdale entry fee communities. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Brookdale Senior Living.

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