There’s an ooooold saying about the tipping points in life.
This ones comes from deep in the desert, back in some of the first communities our species ever built.
The wiki says the story goes like this.
The idiom the straw that broke the camel’s back is from an Arab proverb about how a camel wearing shoes is loaded beyond its capacity to move. This is a reference to any process by which cataclysmic failure (a broken back) is achieved by a seemingly inconsequential addition (a single straw). This also gives rise to the phrase “the last/final straw”, used when something is deemed to be the last in a line of unacceptable occurrences. A variation of this idiom is “the straw that broke the donkey‘s back”.
One of the earliest published usages of this phrase was in Charles Dickens‘s Dombey and Son where he says “As the last straw breaks the laden camel’s back”, meaning that there is a limit to everyone’s endurance, or everyone has his breaking point. Dickens was writing in the nineteenth century and he may have received his inspiration from an earlier proverb, recorded by Thomas Fuller in his Gnomologia as ‘Tis the last feather that breaks the horse’s back.’
So it goes from the Desert to Dickens and back to Dicks in the Desert (of Wall Street). Or something.
Why I’m bringing this up is that, uh, I’m one of those straws, maybe even the proverbial one.
You see, in order to provide for my little media endeavor, and take some time to write and enjoy life, I’ve taken the step of cashing out a 401K I’d been bulding for the last few years. Silly, I know, but when one needs capital and one has been saving for that reason, it was an easy call.
The fact that I got my check on the exact same day that the shit hit the fan makes me wonder about the weight of my piece of straw.
We’ve been told that the camel was mighty and healthy and beyond danger. That It could withstand war and famine and plague and pestilence and keep walking through the desert undisturbed. That it could go faster, even, if we just whipped it harder.
Now we know better.
Just like they did thousands of years ago, halfway around the world.