Energy is something we'd all like more of, and yet we don't always expend it wisely. This week's tip is about one of the ways we waste our energy, and some thoughts on how to reclaim it.
When I was at primary school I had a teacher who taught history out of a large picture book. On one side of each double page spread there would be a story from British history, on the other side an artist's impression. A tale I remember with great clarity is that of King Canute. Canute, for those whose education failed them in this particular regard, was a medieval king of England and a few other countries thrown in. He was surrounded, as powerful people often are, by sycophants, whose constant flattery bored and exasperated him. One day he was taking a walk along the beach and, seeking to put an end to his companions' absurd adulation, he said that if he was so wonderful then surely he would be able to command the waves? He instructed his courtiers to bring his throne and set it close to the waves. When a wave touched his feet he shouted 'Stop, I command you!' When the waves persisted on bathing his feet and gradually making their way up the legs of his throne, he turned to his companions. 'You see,' he said, 'I cannot instruct the sea. Only God can do that.'
The funny thing is that my memory of the story is restricted to the image, on the opposing page, of a king sitting on a throne shouting at the tide to stop coming in.
That image, formed in my eight year old brain, gets triggered every time I see someone doing something similarly futile. For example, at the weekend I was walking through a village with a friend, passing a pretty thatched cottage outside of which were a line of police no parking cones. 'He puts them out every weekend,' my friend told me, 'he can't stand all the day trippers'. Nevertheless, the day trippers were already arriving, parking opposite his house where he had no jurisdiction. It wasn't hard to imagine the scene inside the cottage - sad, frustrated old man, defiantly getting out his cones every Saturday morning, ranting over breakfast, looking out of the window and grumbling at the appearance of every car; perhaps with quietly desperate wife, wishing he would stop banging on about something he can't change and get on with tiling the bathroom.
I remember feeling similarly helpless when my children were younger and I was fighting a losing battle against the tide of unnecessary plastic objects that came into the house. Frustration is usual in these circumstances, but underneath the frustration there is a despair begat of a childhood where, however much we were loved, other people, much bigger and stronger than us, were in charge.
But when we were children there was nothing we could do. Now we're adults there is. King Canute, had he really been trying to stop the tide coming in, could have used his energy to learn how to swim. He could have used his considerable resources to buy himself a boat. Or he could have gone for a walk in the country instead.
1. Think of something you rail against, or pour energy into, that you know you have no control over.
2. How much energy do you expend on this thing?
3. If you were to reclaim that energy, how else could you use it?
"The hardest thing of all is to find a black cat in a dark room, especially if there is no cat."
Enjoy redirecting your energy this week.