Friday, January 24, 2014
BEST LAID SCHEMES OF MICE AND MAN
But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!
Do you remember the old Coyote/Roadrunner cartoons. Every kid got a kick out of watching the coyote lay down intricate plans that always went wrong ... when in theory those plans should have nailed that pesky little road runner. It wasn’t as though the road runner was smarter or had a better plan than the coyote - that road runner was just fast and lucky. The poor coyote put a lot of work into his plans but things just never turned out the way they were supposed to. Bad luck and not for lack of planning.
In 1785 Robert Burns explained it very well in his poem which was inspired by him ploughing up a mouse nest just before winter was setting in. The mouse's foresight was in vain with his shelter destroyed when he needed it most. The mouse could never have predicted a human engineered plough would be his ultimate demise. Burns wisely understood the irony of the situation in that men, like mice, can plan, prepare and plot all they want but it the end sometimes happenstance makes the best laid plans go awry. You could look at it another philosophical way. As humans we often see ourselves as the centre of the universe. Confident and all controlling until “shit just happens”. Yup just like in Forest Gump ... you’re running happily along and suddenly without warning you step into the dog doo.
And there’s another way to look at it. Sometimes foresight and planning just won’t cut it. You have to go with your heart and your gut. There are no absolute assurances in life, as anyone who has ever been hit by a bus would tell you if they could.
The other day someone planning to do the America’s Great Loop told me they would likely skip Georgian Bay because they were worried about hitting rocks. I tried to convey rather unsuccessfully that there wasn’t much sense doing the “loop’ without a visit to Georgian Bay, as it would be like visiting The Louvre and bypassing the Mona Lisa. Besides you might just as well hit a rock along the Erie Barge Canal or get run down by a tug in the Mississippi! There is nothing magic about Georgian Bay rocks. They don’t jump out and attack you when you’re in the channel. There are a lot worse risks that one must take in life and there is no sense worrying about things that may never be and are out of your control. You might get struck by a meteor at some point too ... and this most assuredly will happen to man at some point, near or far, as it has happened before ... and life on earth will change as we know it. But we have no control over the situation, and we don’t know when or if it will happen in our lifetime so why worry about it? . Many aspects of life are out of our control. Just like that little mouse you won’t know when it’s coming.Take few chances and live ... there’s only one turn on this merry-go-round.