Home > 2011 Posts, About Dave > Cut It Off Twice…

Cut It Off Twice…

Dad brought over the pine board while I held in place the other pieces of my soon-to-be-toy-chest. We were in our garage, and Dad had just trimmed the wood that would complete the chest’s fourth side.

As he eased the piece into place, his brow furrowed and he let out a small sigh. Then, looking a little sheepish, he gave me a wan smile and said, “I just don’t understand; I cut it off twice and it’s still too short.”

It was the first time I’d heard that country adage. Dad was a very good carpenter, so I guess an occasion just hadn’t come up. And, being a kid, I had to think a bit before I understood the joke. But, pretty soon I got it and gave a belated chuckle as he headed back to the sawhorse.

So, as he cut a new piece, I asked how he kept from making mistakes like that most of the time. “Well, Dave,” he replied, “carpenters say ‘measure twice, cut once’. And that’s always a good idea. But the other part is listening to yourself. Almost always, there’s a something inside that tells us when things are about to go wrong. In my life there have only been one or two times when things went wrong and that didn’t happen. But, there have been more times than I can count when I ignored that ‘something’ for some stupid reason, like being in too much of a hurry, or letting what was around me drown it out, or by being pig-headed and just plowing ahead. Every time, I paid the price.”

It was only many years later, after a zillion of my own failed opportunities to pay attention to the ‘something’ in my head, that I understood how profound Dad’s joke could be. It was akin to “If you’ve dug yourself into a hole, stop digging.” Or, “If some is bad, more is worse.” Or, “Too much is enough.” Or, one of my favorites, Hippocrates’ dictum to physicians: “First, do no harm.”

Thinking is good. Thinking ahead is better. But then there’s human nature and the Lemming Effect, when far too many people ignore their own ‘something’ and race off a cliff because those around them are doing the same thing. To make it even more fun, sometimes there’s a Pied Piper leading them on as well, promising all good things, appealing to feelings and numbing thought. Like the Wizard telling Dorothy to “Ignore that man behind the curtain!” amidst the crashes, flashes and bangs of his scary, phony act.

Thank Heaven that today, no one digs anything important any deeper, and no one ignores misgivings about cliffs ahead. And, best of all, no one tries to suppress any warnings from others about cliffs, or call them evil, heartless grandmother-murdering monsters.

In this day and age, who could be that foolish?

Categories: 2011 Posts, About Dave Tags:
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: