Because I live in a first world country, I have two sets of nail clippers – one for my fingernails, and another, larger one for my toenails. Obviously, the idea of using one kind of nail clipper for both sets of nails is just nuts.
Whenever I go to clip my nails, something that has always struck me is that the type of clipper I don’t need at that particular time is always right there at the top of my single drawer of man-grooming stuff. But I have to dig around for the other one. Never fails. I can easily find the one I don’t need, but the one I need requires searching.
It occurred to me this week, however, that this is because of one, simple thing: when I am done with the clippers, I just put them back in the drawer. Thus, the pair I used last is always closest to the top and easiest to find. But the pair I need is usually the other one, because I haven’t used them, recently.
This is probably not news to you, but it was something of a small revelation to me. This phenomenon of the clippers I don’t need being easy to find (but the clippers I need being buried) is not due to Murphy’s Law or a comical irony of life and the universe or God or Satan trying to make my life marginally more difficult – it’s a perfectly logical and natural consequence of my own actions. My present action of just putting the clippers away in the drawer – perfectly logical and natural action on its own – has the unintended consequence of annoying me in the future. It is because of time and a host of other actions that pass in between that kept me from making the connection.
This is a very small, trivial matter. But it does make me think about things on a larger scale. What are the things that distress me in the present that are simply the natural outworking of my actions in the past, but I fail to make the connection because of the time and events in between? What are the things that I am doing in the present that will cause me issues in the future even though it might not seem like it due to the amount of time and events that will pass before Future Me has to deal with it?
What are the things in my life that I ascribe to others or God or the brokenness of the universe that are actually nothing more than the very logical, natural outworking of my own actions?
Perhaps most importantly, how can I get better at seeing those things and using them to make things easier for me in the future? How can I avoid being at the mercy of myself?