Pg 148 to 149 – The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe
When I had gone through this work, I was extremely delighted with it: the boat was really much bigger than I ever saw a canoe or periagua, that was made of one tree, in my life. … But all my devices to get it into the water failed me … it was up hill towards the creek. … for I could no more stir the canoe than I could the [shipwrecked ship]. Then I measured the distance of ground, and resolved to cut a dock, or canal, to bring the water up to the canoe, seeing I could not bring the canoe down to the water. Well, I began this work, and when I began to enter into it, and calculated how deep it was to be dug, how broad, how the stuff to be thrown out, I found that by the number of hands I had, being none but my own, it must have been ten or twelve years before I should have gone through with it … This grieved me heartily; and now I saw, though too late, the folly of beginning a work before we count the cost, and before we judge rightly of our own strength to go through with it.
Obviously, one of the Bible verses that can be paired with this story is Christ’s telling us to take into account the costs when we follow him. For if we do not account for the costs before we act, we are being foolish and will often not complete the task.
For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’
The quote above from Robinson Crusoe doesn’t necessarily impart any amazing tidbit (at least that I can see) or revelation besides being a fantastic reminder of what we are to do. His suffering, of which here is evident thanks to Defoe’s writing ability, is monumental. How much time and effort was wasted in building that boat, as well as attempting to move it? How much of that time and effort, if spent on something else, could have greatly increased his comfort and ability to survive? These kinds of stories help stick the principles in our minds. It helps stick in our mind the importance of thinking through things.
It’s not easy. I have a few things in my life that I need to think through. My wife is pregnant for one. The life changes that occur with that are not easy to think through as it has so many variables. Though I would be foolish to avoid thinking about it. To avoid planning for it and assuming it will “all work out” is practically the definition for foolishness. Find a dictionary, it probably says “Not planning for soon to be born child”. Hopefully, it won’t have a picture of me next to it. Sure Sure, it probably work out just fine and no reason to psych myself about it. It’s a child and of course it will work out. But like Crusoe, time is valuable and I don’t want to build my boat far from water. If I’m going to be the best I can be, especially to a young one who will be in my charge, I’m going to have to work for it and get some general plans in.
What about for yourself? Do you have ideas, events or plans coming up that needs to still be considered? It’s not easy. As Craig Ballantyne says “Oh, and expect this to suck…but that’s why it’s called work.” But man, is it worthwhile.
This post is a continuation of a short series of commentary based on quotes pulled from The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe. The book was an enjoyable, pretty short and easy read. Here are some quick links to posts related to this book: Short review of the book itself, all the quotes in one place, and a list of other commentary like this one.