Excitabat fluctus in simpulo

There are two ways to make a lot of a little: one is a joy to behold, the other is everyone’s nightmare. Allow me to explain.

My sons and I saw STOMP at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta yesterday afternoon. What a show! I’ve never seen so much done with so little. Trash cans, barrels, brooms, mops, hands, feet and yes, even the kitchen sink were used to produce a remarkable display of human percussive creativity. This production is the perfect example of the former category.

As with every coin, there is another side. Some people prefer to make a lot out of a little in the sense that they create a “tempest in a teapot,” that is, they make a big deal about something insignificant. This phrase probably derives from Cicero’s De Legibus, where he stated: “Excitabat fluctus in simpulo” which is roughly translated as “He was stirring up billows in a ladle.” Regardless of the source, you know the type. Every little thing is blown way out of proportion, earning those thus agitated the nickname: “drama queen/king.”

Very few things on earth are worthy of the amount of energy expended through unnecessary reactions and subsequent chain-reactions that trail from the original event like tin cans on a string dragging from a newlywed’s car. Most of the stress that people experience is a by-product of overreaction. Overreaction exacerbates the situation for all involved and the agitation is multiplied to the degree that the reactions are reacted to by other participants or passersby.

At some point in any unnecessary wave of reactivity, someone must stand still and say, “thus far and no further.” In my estimation, among the most valuable people are those who have the ability to put things into perspective, no matter how high the stakes or how personal the implications. This is a rare breed, for few mature beyond the point where they are blown uncontrollably by the winds of circumstance.

Returning to the former type of folks who can make a lot out of a little, these are the people who can make a statement in black, stretch a dollar or rescue a crew from space using a few available spare parts, as the engineers turned heroes did on the Apollo 13 mission. This skill, which depends heavily on the ability to put and keep things in perspective, always come in handy, particularly in a recessionary or resource-limited environment. When employed in a resource-rich environment, the results can be phenomenal.

If you are going to make a lot out of a little, make sure you expend your energies in a way that generates rather than dissipates. Never start another chapter of your life with “I know that I shouldn’t make a big deal out of this, but…” Instead, begin every chapter by saying “How can I most creatively handle this situation I have at my doorstep?”

Have a great Sunday!

5 thoughts on “Excitabat fluctus in simpulo

  1. Rosa Maysen

    I love the analogy of the tin cans trailing behind the newlyweds’ car. It’s appropriate – we choose what we wed ourselves to and there is a ripple effect from that.


  2. Foxglove

    To make mountains out of mole hills in the sense that it allows something positive to grow… Look at a seed for instance, or for example what can come from a single thought or an idea – a revolution! It seems like everything conspires to be resourceful. In a human being it can impart discipline for one who is used to living in times of plenty, and this discipline can then help one live victoriously in times of less abundance. I appreciate your bountiful observations!


  3. Joshua

    Thanks for this amazing new perspective,
    “Thus Far and no Further!”
    Look forward to a wonderfully generative new day as a result of this catalytic starting point!
    Life uncommon, is AMAZING!
    Love to you.


  4. strawberryfields

    Well said. Looking back you see a different perspective; sometimes the big deals really weren’t and some of the little thing turn out to be life changing. Best to tread with the thought of doing your best in each situation.


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