Poor King Canute! Or, should I say lucky King Canute? I’ve only recently learned about Canute (or Cnut), a Danish king that lived a thousand years ago. As a real historical figure, his life has been recorded. But, I wonder how accurately.
There is one story in particular that I have seen told in two contrasting ways. Both stories start the same, the king and his followers are on a beach facing the sea. Canute is sitting in a chair, possibly his throne. In one version, the king is stupid. He commands the tides not to rise, but of course they still do and he gets wet. In the other version, the king is wise. He has assembled everyone there to show them that even though he is a powerful king, he is powerless next to God who controls nature.
So, was he was wise, but some careless historian has made him into a buffoon? Or, was he an idiot, but some royalist has tried to salvage his reputation? Or, was he something else? We may never know and I’m not surprised.
A while ago, it was pointed out to me that by three or four generations after we die there is no one around who really knew us. And, any stories about us, may not be correct. So, why worry about what people will think of you? Live life with a clean conscious, be kind to others and take the occasional stroll by the seaside. Just remember to watch out for the tide.