Oh, to be dispensable

May 20, 2006

Back in the day when I would get all fluffed up about something I thought I had done particularly well, my mom would pull out this poem. She called it the “Ode to the Indispensable Man”.

There Is No Indispensable Man
by Saxon N. White Kessinger, Copyright 1959

Sometime when you’re feeling important;
Sometime when your ego’s in bloom
Sometime when you take it for granted
You’re the best qualified in the room,

Sometime when you feel that your going
Would leave an unfillable hole,
Just follow these simple instructions
And see how they humble your soul;

Take a bucket and fill it with water,
Put your hand in it up to the wrist,
Pull it out and the hole that’s remaining
Is a measure of how you will be missed.

You can splash all you wish when you enter,
You may stir up the water galore,
But stop and you’ll find that in no time
It looks quite the same as before.

The moral of this quaint example
Is do just the best that you can,
Be proud of yourself but remember,
There’s no indispensable man.

Google tells me it has a slightly different title and the author is no longer “unknown”, but it still has the same effect now as it did when my mom used it to bring me back down to earth years ago. Only now I would really like to be dispensable. Managing one job as they look for my replacement, while trying to learn the other before my predecessor leaves, puts me in mind of the old Twister game we used to play. Only now there is some diabolical person holding the spinner. One foot is in the new job while the other foot and both hands are still in the old job. My brain is somewhere in between wondering what the spinner will have me do next. I long to be dispensed with. My bucket overfloweth. I feel as though I might be going down for the count. Maybe we could just dump the water out of the bucket all together and move on.

But alas, would I like some cheese with that whine? Of course. Would I like some cake and be able to eat it, too? Yes. Would I give up this wonderful opportunity? No way. Will it be ok? I sure hope so. Do I really want to be dispensable? Well, nah.

Uh, oh…here it comes! Left foot on blue…


One Response to “Oh, to be dispensable”

  1. Michael Rooney Says:

    I remember this well….it was going the rounds in the early 1960s…but had a rider …something like:-
    But use what talents you possess,
    And do not hide them from the rest.
    For the forest would a quiet place be
    If the only birdsong in the tree
    Came from the birds that sang the best.
    Michael Rooney

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