Friday, November 19, 2010

Supplies and Demands

It struck me today, as I attempted to staple together two pieces of paper on which I had scrawled my most recent calculus answers, that staplers are excellent metaphors.

You see, I went to staple the pages together, but was struck by the sudden realization brought about by the ringing of hollow metal against hollow metal: my stapler was out of staples. Now, here I was, having stapled many, many papers in weeks past, unable to recall the last time I actually refilled the stapler. It struck me, then, that I had imagined the supply of staples, on some level, to be infinite. Although, somehow, I was obviously aware of their finite quantity, I operated from day to day as though they would never run out. Each time I pressed the stapler, I expected a staple. It shocked me to find that my supply was depleted.

This, I think, serves as a metaphor for the environment, economy, and even emotions. We go through life tricking ourselves, acting as though we have a limitless supply of natural resources, of financial wealth, or of emotional reactions to induce. We expect that no matter how much oil we burn, money we spend, or insults we dish out, we can always find more oil in a deeper well, more money in a deeper pocket, or more sympathy from a deeper apology. Somewhere, though, there is a breaking point: we run out of fuel, out of cash, out of forgiveness. At some point, we go too far, take the last straw, break the camel's back.

Life, like a stapler, is comprised of things in sometimes limited supply. It is important not to forget this, lest we go one day to staple and find ourselves stunned by our inability to do so.

That being said, it is valuable to note that, as is the case with staplers, in life, we can work to replenish resources, renew wealth, and resolve problems. We cannot continue to use and use and use without giving and giving and giving, but if we are willing to give, then we can also be permitted to get.

And so, I advocate a surplus of spare staples. I recommend action taken to bring new life to the environment before we ever consider taking life away. I suggest securing income before considering expenditures. I support building trust and doing favors before asking for trust and requesting favors.

Because, after all, I believe that life is a collection of staplers.

Now don't get me started on pencil sharpeners...

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