By Norma Kirkpatrick
All cultures have their own wisdom literature, with wise sayings that teach a lesson. No matter how ancient they might seem to be, they have endured. You can probably remember several sayings used in your family. One of the ancient ones I learned years ago, I have repeated to family and friends, when the teaching applied. It came from the Bedouin, a nomadic people who moved about, carrying their tents. The tents were important to protect them from the winds and cold temperature of the desert at night.
“Never let a camel stick its nose into your tent.” I admit I always have to laugh when I think of it, because it can apply to so many circumstances of our life. Perhaps our saying, “They are just inviting trouble”, would be similar. I’m sure you get the picture; first the nose, then the head, then the forelegs, then the whole camel and the Bedouin finds himself out in the cold, while the camel enjoys the warm tent; …if he hadn’t knocked the whole thing down trying to get inside.
It is the little things we allow, because they seem so small, that can slowly evolve into overwhelming outcomes that rule our life. Every bad habit started with the first time. As time progresses, it takes us over and we have to fight every day to get our tent back. Sometimes the tent is in such tatters it can never be the same, because of an innocent “first time.” After the “first time”, there is “sometime” and “once in a while”; soon becoming “all of the time.”
Back to the adage; the first word is “never.” Behind the small nose looms the huge, unseen camel. The Bedouin knew the size of the ship of the desert that had carried him, but in a lapse of reason, he might be tempted to just let that camel stick its head into the warm tent, away from the blowing sand. It does seem like an innocent act.
Wise parents, relatives, and friends teach children the “nevers” as soon as they can talk; praying that they will listen. There are so many unwise choices out there trying to wiggle their way into our private tent, offering us the “first time” throughout our entire life. Keep up your guard and remember that things are seldom what they seem; be sure you know the consequences before you let a camel stick its nose into your tent.
Kirkpatrick is a guest columnist for the Opelika Observer. She is a wordsmith who has contributed to teaching materials, magazines and newspapers. She also collaborates with authors on literary projects and writes an occasional poem. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.