The other day when I posted #ThisdaysJoy, I wrote, “Seeing some monkeys and a couple of circus tents, and marching myself in the other direction.”
And it’s true.
A little while ago a circus pitched its tent in my vicinity, and from where I stand I can hear the music playing in the distance. I can smell the hot dogs and cotton candy wafting in on the breeze.
There’s a certain allure there. After all, it’s a circus!
I have to admit I’ve thought about stopping by to watch, just for a few moments.
There’s bound to be something entertaining to see. There’s sure to be something exciting going on. There’s something that tugs at me, tries to draw me in.
- Maybe they’ll be shooting a man out of a cannon?
- Maybe a woman will stick her head in a lion’s open jaws?
- Maybe a blindfolded girl will stand still while someone else throws knives at her?
- Maybe there will be a troop of monkeys?!
Yeah, right. Suck it up, Buttercup.
That person flying out of the cannon? Chances are good she’s going to be me if I get any closer to that particular circus.
The person with her head in a lion’s mouth? Also me if I spend time hanging around someone with fangs and the ability to use them.
That person with the knives being thrown at her willy nilly? Absolutely me if I’m dumb enough to get close enough and make myself a target.
And the monkeys….don’t even mention the monkeys!
So when I hear the circus barker calling my name, it’s up to me — and nobody else but me — to walk away (or run!) rather than hurry closer.
That’s why I gave myself a metaphorical thump on the head, told myself, “SNAP OUT’VE IT!”, and marched in the other direction.
Because I’m old enough to know that nothing good ever comes of visiting the circus and watching those particular monkeys perform.
But it’s hard — especially when there are so many opportunities today to join the circus. Between social media and 24-hour news channels and all the other real-world commitments, there are so many barkers calling my name.
But then I ask myself how many of those circuses am I responsible for?
- The former colleague who delights in making political commentary to stir the pot? Not my circus.
- The old friend who’s not a friend at all but merely an angry, self-important nincompoop? Not my circus.
- The relative whose values simply don’t align with yours and who reminds you of that at every opportunity? Still not my circus.
No sense borrowing trouble — because in the end, there are really very few circuses and even fewer monkeys that actually belong to me.
What about you? How many circuses are you responsible for?
Linda Dudgeon says
So well said, my friend! When I was preparing to retire and distance myself from the chaos, my mantra was “Not my circus, not my monkeys!”. Still holds true today.
Call me a little slow on the uptake, but I got half way through your column before the light bulb went off. I then reread it with new understanding and realized that you had found a profound way to put into words what I have been struggling with since this Thanksgiving past.
But most importantly, you have given me new understanding of my own responsibilities.
Thank you for your insight.
It makes me so happy to hear that! ? Here’s hoping the you find ways to return any lost monkeys to their proper circus.