Parable of the spoons

by Richard on September 20, 2004

For some time the cutlery drawer in our kitchen has been unruly. You never seemed to be able to keep knives, forks and spoons in their proper places. There was no obvious reason why that should be so. It isn’t as if we’d been buying more cutlery or anything. But the other day my wife decided it was time it got sorted out. Only a short time later she discovered the root of the problem. “Have a guess how many medicine spoons we’ve got,” came the challenge. The answer was surprising — 24! A short conference ensued. How many medicine spoons does a household require? We settled on 6; excessive perhaps but far less than 2 dozen. This decision made, the drawer was repacked and is now perfectly tidy. It is a paragon of order.
Medicine spoons are Good Things. There was nothing wrong with any of them. The trouble is, they were occupying too much space. Ditching a few of them restored the cutlery drawer to good order.

It has made me think about all the crowding of stuff that occupies my life. There isn’t much that I don’t feel has a place, but it is entirely possible some of that stuff is getting more attention than it should. Certainly there are times when my life feels a bit like an unruly kitchen drawer.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }


timsamoff 09.20.04 at 6:20 pm

Wow. I don’t even know what a medicine spoon is?!


Richard 09.20.04 at 8:12 pm

It’s just a plastic spoon for giving a measured dose of medicine with — 2.5 or 5ml usually. They often come included with bottles of stuff from the chemist’s shop, which I suppose is how we ended up with so many.


Jan 09.20.04 at 10:43 pm

Perhaps the spoons are first cousins to teh wire coathangers which breed in the back of teh wardrobe?


Richard 09.20.04 at 11:04 pm

Hmmm - things must be different down your way Jan. In my experience p=n+1, where p is the number of shirts waiting to be put on hangers and n is the number of coathangers available.


Brian 09.20.04 at 11:29 pm

At least in the US, when you take shirts to the cleaners (to be pressed & starched) they come back on cheap metal hangers and you wind up with about a million of them in the closet. Your equation works perfectly in our coat closet, though!


Bene Diction 09.21.04 at 12:45 am

Twist ties.
Like your medicine spoons, they are like tribbles.
They multiply, and turn up in the oddest places.:^)


Richard 09.21.04 at 7:25 am

There’s a transatlanntic cultural difference Brian — my shirts go in the washing machine, not to the cleaners! Do people really still have their shirts starched then?

You’re right about twist ties BD.

“Glitter” is the other thing that never goes away. If the kids have been making a picture with glitter it just keeps on turning up for weeks afterward.


Brian 09.21.04 at 4:28 pm

A lot of men still do take their shirts to the cleaners. I do less often than some, but in the business world it’s pretty much expected that your shirt will be pressed and starched. I don’t like to iron and my refuses to iron anything (she won’t buy anything that requires ironing) so I’m pretty much left with taking my shirts to the cleaners. Maybe its not a transatlantic cultural difference - I’m probably just lazy!


Richard 09.21.04 at 5:12 pm

That must be why I’d never succeed in business Brian!


Karen Miller 09.02.05 at 6:00 pm

Parable of the Spoons

A holy man was having a conversation with the Lord one day and said, “Lord, I would like to know what Heaven and Hell are like. “The Lord led the holy man to two doors. He opened one of the doors and the holy man looked in. In the middle of the room was a large round table. In the middle of the table was a large pot of stew which smelled delicious and made the holy man’s mouth water.

The people sitting around the table were thin and sickly. They appeared to be famished. They were holding spoons with very long handles and each found it possible to reach into the pot of stew and take a spoonful, but because the handle was longer than their arms, they could not get the spoons back into their mouths. The holy man shuddered at the sight of their misery and suffering. The Lord said, “You have seen Hell.”

They went to the next room and opened the door.. It was exactly the same as the first one. There was the large round table with the large pot of stew which made the holy man’s mouth water. The people were equipped with the same long-handled spoons, but here the people were well nourished and plump, laughing and talking.
The holy man said, “I don’t understand.”

It is simple” said the Lord, “it requires but one skill. You see,
they have learned to feed each other. While the greedy think only of themselves.


Kate Reid 11.06.05 at 3:59 am

I really like the parable of the spoons posted by Karen…


Swan 11.06.05 at 4:29 pm

I do, too, so I reposted it on my blog.

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