I have a boarder in my house. She has been here for about three months now, and I think the “honeymoon period” is over.
“Tell me the weight of a snowflake,” a coalmouse asked a wild dove.
“Nothing more than nothing,” the dove answered.
“In that case I must tell you a marvelous story,” the coalmouse said. “I sat on a fir branch close to the trunk when it began to snow. Not heavily, not in a raging blizzard. No, just like in a dream, without any violence at all.
Since I didn’t have anything better to do, I counted the snowflakes settling on the twigs and needles of my branch. Their number was exactly 3,471,952. When the next snowflake dropped onto the branch-nothing more than nothing-as you say-the branch broke off.”
Having said that, the coalmouse ran away.
The dove, since Noah’s time an authority on peace, thought about the story for a while. Finally, she said to herself, “Perhaps there is only one person’s voice lacking for peace to come to the world.”
I don’t know why I thought of this story when I started this entry. I think it was because it is the little things adding up that can break a person – like the little snowflake breaking the branch, or that final straw that breaks the camels back. I know the story is about becoming a voice for peace and the last straw is about a painful end. Given a choice over the snowflake or the straw, I’d prefer to be the snowflake.
Can I find a way to resolve minor difficulties with the active alcoholic who is living in my house? And if I can’t find a way to work with one individual (even someone who seems irrational and lies – as most alcoholics do), how can I expect that there will ever be a way to make peace a reality in the world (with countries – including my own – whose leaders seem irrational and lie)?
Can I find to get through to this 50-year-old individual that the wastefulness she embraces is hurtful to me? And will she care? How many times do I need to explain that it makes sense to step back into the house and close the door behind her if she needs to have a conversation instead of holding the door open and letting the 17 degree winds blow into the house? That I don’t use paper plates but once every year or two when there are more people eating than I have dishes for (when she stacks the plates six high for cookies and throws the whole stack away). Can I get it through to her that if I can make do with three loads of laundry every three or four weeks, there is no need for her to do hers daily. When she says that we are out of laundry detergent, how can I explain with love that in the past 20 days we have gone through 6-months worth of detergent and let’s talk about using about a quarter of what you normally use? That six days is not enough time to have gone through a bottle of sink dish washing detergent…
Little, insignificant, tiny snowflakes – nothing more than nothing – which sometimes feel like that final straw.
Will dealing with this situation teach me to be a better person – or will it bring me to a place of rage? The current situation is leaving me a bit irrational… and if irrationality breeds irrationality – maybe there really is no hope for this world.