The wrong tool

Tags: koans, programming, musings

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A young scribe worked day and night on his scrolls. Some of his scrolls required many changes, and he laboriously copied the content of each scroll onto a new scroll whenever even the tiniest bit had to be changed.

Once, at supper, the scribe professed how exhausted he was by keeping track of all versions of a single document. Upon hearing this, the abbot told him to use one of the sacred version control systems used by the monastery.

With a strained voice, the scribe responded “I do not have time to learn even one of these systems. I have so many scrolls to copy.” The abbot did not respond, but elected to wait.

The two monks had the same conversation repeatedly. Each time, the young scribe exclaimed that he had no time to learn. Finally, one day, the abbot sent for Master Darcs.

Master Darcs invited the scribe to eat supper with him. They both filled their bowls with nourishing and clear soup. Master Darcs sat down, selected a fork, and began to eat his soup. The young scribe sat and ate in silence. Long after the scribe had finished his soup, the master was still eating his.

Finally, the young scribe dared to ask a question. “Forgive me, master,” spoke the scribe, “but why do you not use a spoon? Even a small one would surely be better than this.”

“I do not have time to learn even one of these instruments,” responded Master Darcs calmly.

Hearing this, the scribe was enlightened.