Progressively Less Table

There’s a scene that happens in a ton of dramatic shows and movies, and no matter how many iterations of it I see, I always love it. Here’s the scene, which you’ve also seen a hundred times: someone has been injured badly, usually shot, while doing Something They Shouldn’t Be Doing. For that reason, they can’t go to a normal hospital, so they’re being carried to the nearest safe location, which is almost always a filthy home or shop of some sort. The person will die without medical attention, which thus has to be administered in an amateur way in said filthy hovel.

Just as the chaotic entourage is bursting in, shouting incoherent orders, someone will invariably sweep clean the nearest large flat table so they can lay this person down. And this is my favorite part – because in these scenes, that table is always covered in junk. Like, an absolutely ridiculous assortment of bottles, electronics, trash, ammunition, motorcycle parts, and animals will just get shoved unceremoniously onto the floor so they can use that table for the very important work of saving someone’s life from a deadly injury.

Yeah, you’ve seen that scene a thousand times, haven’t you? It’s a classic for a reason.

Anyway, here’s the relevance. Today’s analogy. The table is our normal, day-to-day life. It accumulates stuff we have to do – tasks and jobs and activities and responsibilities. They accumulate little by little, because we can always find a little corner or unused space to put it in. We can always stack a new object on an old one or shove a few things around. Sure, with each new object, the table becomes less and less usable. The objects become harder to find, the table groans under the weight. Some stuff rolls onto the floor and we can’t find it. Some stuff gets messy. But we like the stuff individually, so we always pile on a little more.

But when a man has been shot, you don’t spend time dithering about where you’re going to fit him! You don’t waste time trying to do more and more with progressively less table, you push that shit onto the floor! In an emergency, the thing to sacrifice isn’t ourselves. It’s everything else. You need to be operating at peak efficiency! When you’re in dire straights, don’t try to figure out how you can resolve the emergency and maintain everything else, killing yourself in the process. Throw it all on the floor, solve the emergency, and then pick it back up. You probably won’t even want to pick up 80% of it.

You’ll save a life and clean a table. Sometimes that’s a big win. Almost worth getting shot.

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