Eating the Elephant is my blog. At any time, readers may find themselves amused, horrified, thought-provoked, entertained, or any combination thereof. “How do you eat an elephant?” my husband asked when I was wallowing in self-doubt about whether I could write, and more importantly finish writing, a full-length novel. The answer: “One bite at a time.” It’s a metaphor for tackling any daunting, lengthy, or seemingly herculean task. It stuck with me through the days, weeks, months, and years that it’s taken me to write three novels. He’s a smart guy. I think I’ll keep him.
You might get hit by a bus. People have been hit by buses in the past. Does that mean you should never cross a road? Should you stay indoors? Move to the wilderness where bus service is nonexistent? Of course not, because you’re smart enough to understand you probably won’t be hit by a bus. If you’re still afraid of homicidal buses, even knowing how rare they are, that’s called an irrational fear. As a pedestrian, your odds of being hit by a moving vehicle are one in 47,000. Rational people don’t let odds like that scare them. Rational people saunter out into their bus-filled world and carry on with the business of enjoying life.
Now for more about irrational fears.
I think we all have one or two of those fanged, squirming things locked away in our brain’s equivalent of a closet under the stairs. Most of us ignore the clawing and scratching at the door, but sometimes we listen; sometimes, the morbid fascination is too compelling, and we let the nasty beast out to wreak havoc with our peace of mind.
Nothing good ever comes of this.
Lately I’ve been reading about bathrooms and the boogeymen who frequent them. Rational people know that boogeymen are rarely found in bathrooms. Rational people know boogeymen prefer cobwebbed attics, dank basements, and foggy alleyways.
So why are people so frightened, so freaked out, so irrationally afraid of boogeymen in public restrooms? Because they’re being manipulated by politicians with agendas that have nothing to do with boogeymen, and everything to do with misdirection and manipulation. There’s a lot of important stuff not getting done in our state and federal buildings while we’re talking about bathrooms.
I don’t know about you, but I have my hands full ignoring the scratching and clawing at the closet door of my own irrational fears. I don’t intend to let politicians add to that menagerie.
I’ve been thinking about friendship lately.
As a chicken whose memories of spring are hazy and make me feel vaguely uncomfortable, I’m finding myself more selective of those with whom I spend my precious time. It’s precious because I could get hit by a bus at any moment; doesn’t matter that I live in the suburbs where mass transit is essentially unknown. Buses are sneaky. I don’t trust them any farther than I can throw them.
Anyway, knowing that I could be on some bus hit list has prompted me to ponder friendships. Unlike family, we get to choose our friends, so it’s an important job selecting ones who will give us the most bang for our buck. Are they supportive of our goals? Do they listen when we talk about the crappy day we’re having, or do they interrupt so they can tell us about theirs? Are they interesting? Fun to be with? Kind? Are we eager to be in their company or do we sometimes dread the inevitable drama they bring with them?
These are questions we should ask ourselves, but some even more important questions are these: Are we the kind of friend we would choose for ourselves? Are we asking for more than we’re giving in return? We can’t expect our friends to be loving, compassionate, and supportive, unless we are all those things to them.
So that’s what I’ve been thinking about lately — making sure the friendship scales are balanced and that one person isn’t doing most of the heavy lifting. Give and take, brothers and sisters. The clock is ticking. That bus could be lurking around the corner with its engine running and a scrolling LED message just for you: FINAL DESTINATION.