The Plates

Imagine, one day long ago you’d entered a room. And there was an old engineer there. Carefully tweaking the movement of several long poles. He’d been a bit grumpy, apparently you were late.

Quickly, he instructed you to continue the work, to keep the plates above spinning. “Whatever you do, don’t let a plate drop.” And he left the room.

So, you started tweaking.

Occasionally you looked up, to check on the plates, but you were dazzled by the overhead lights, and couldn’t see.

This movement, this activity, took almost all your attention. It ran your schedule.

The plates couldn’t be allowed to drop. Though you realised you weren’t sure why. So one day, out of boredom, you stopped.

Just stopped.

And waited.

And waited.

Nothing happened.No plates came tumbling down.

There were no plates.

All this time, you’d been protecting something that didn’t exist.

Walking out into the corridor, you stuck your head into the next room to pass on your amazing discovery. “Go away, I’ve got to keep these plates spinning.”

In the next room, you tried again. “Nonsense. A well-respected plate-spinner personally explained the plate-spinning process to me.”

And the next. “You can’t tell me that. I’ve been here for years, and not one plate had ever fallen, thanks to my diligent efforts.”

One last room. The resident is crying in the corner. Gently, you ask them to raise their chin, open their eyes. For them to see there is no evidence of shattered plates. But, they are so sure they’ve spoilt everything, they will not look.

You step outside, into the sunshine. Welcomed by smiling faces.

This is the beginning.

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