Security Is Mortals’ Chiefest Enemy
Once upon a time there was a man who lived happily and in peace with himself and the world, until one day – perhaps out of senseless curiosity, perhaps out of sheer levity – he asked himself if life has its own rules. He was not referring to the obvious fact that every country in the world has its own customs and legal codes, – for instance, belching after a meal may be considered rude in one society and a compliment to the hostess in another or people should not scribble graffiti on walls if they cannot spell. No, these were not the issues; such rules invented for humans by humans were of little interest to him. What he suddenly wanted, needed, to know was whether life has its own regularities, quite independently of us.
If only he had never asked himself this accursed question, for it spelled the end of his happiness and contentment. It threw him into the same predicament as they experienced by the centipede when the cockroach innocently wanted to know how he managed to move his hundred legs with such elegance and ease. The centipede started thinking – and from that moment on he was unable to walk.
To put it less trivially: What happened to our man was similar to what Saint Peter experienced when he leaped from the boat and ran towards Christ – until it occurred to him that walking on water, as Jesus was doing, was utterly impossible. Whereupon Peter promptly sank into Lake Genesareth and almost drowned. (As is well known, sailors and fishermen usually cannot swim.)
Paul Watzlawick, Ultra-Solutions. How To Fail Most Successfully (tit. originale Vom Schlechten des Guten), W.W. Norton & Company, New York – London 1988. 110 pagine.