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In Favor of Rearranging Deck Chairs On The Titanic

March 4, 2020

It’s like I’m rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

What do you mean?

You know, the ship that sank.

Of course, but why would you rearrange the deck chairs.

Yeah, that’s my point.

I thought everyone knew that phrase. Apparently my therapost wasn’t everyone. She’d literally never heard of it. The phrase means to participate in a not only useless, but fruitless activity.

After the ship hit the iceberg and it became obvious the ship was going to sink, many activites became pointless. It’s kind of like those end-of-the-world predictions. If the world was really going to end next month do you really need to pay your light bill?

I don’t mean to minimize the tragedy that was the sinking of the Titanic. More than 1,500 people died that April 15, 1912. They died because the ship was not equipped with enough life boats.

So, those on board knew that it was impossible for everyone to survive. It’s why they let the women and children go first. But, what of the men left behind? What did they do?

Would arranging the deck chairs be important or even useful? The phrase I started with says no. It’s a useless activity.

But, is it?

Picture yourself on that ocean liner, the largest in the world at the time, taking hours to slip below the waves. You have time on your hands. One of the most touching stories from that fateful night is the story told by survivors that the band played. Maybe they were playing to calm the passengers as they loaded the lifeboats.

But, after the boats pulled away, afraid to be sucked under when the ship finally slipped below the surface, the band played on. According to survivors, the band played to the very end.


What else could they do? If you were a musician, how would you choose to spend your final moments. They were going to their certain doom. They chose to die doing what they loved, or at least what they chose.

Now, imagine you are the deck steward on that ship. The lifeboats pushed off without you. As a crew member, you knew from the first moment that you were not going to get off the sinking ship.

How would you choose to spend your last moments? How would you choose to meet your doom? If your role on that cruise was to tend teh deck chairs, you might just have straightened them as your final official act. If the great ship must meet her doom, would you not want her looking her best? With every deck chair in it’s place?

I don’t know. But, I do know that there are times where the whole world seems to be out of whack. And I struggle to find my bearings. And sometimes I accomplish that by straightening the deck chairs.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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