When I was a kid, I was really good at complaining. I’d go to my dad with one problem, and that would lead me to complaining about another problem, which would lead to another problem, and on and on, escalating until a difficult Math assignment had turned into an existential crisis of the whiny magnitude that only an overdramatic seven-year-old or sobby drunk Philosophy major can muster.
My dad got sick of this pretty quickly, so he told me to imagine my problems as things piled on top of a pony. The pony was trained to carry problems, but it wasn’t a supernaturally strong pony, so it could only do so much. Every time I started to add another marginally related problem to the complaint list, it was another weight for that poor pony to bear. Under the weight of too many problems, that pony’s knees would buckle and its little imaginary pony body would go splat, buried forever under a pile of problems.
It was a spectacularly effective mental image. When I started to pile on the problems, he’d say, “Nicole, you’re killing that pony,” and, aghast, I’d scale back to the original issue that needed to be dealt with. Any emotional focus I have can be traced directly back to the pony metaphor, I’m sure. If I start to get overwhelmed by the problems on my plate, I see this:
And I have to focus on what’s in front of me. Because I’ve already killed so many ponies in my lifetime, and they probably all had families and mortgages.
I haven’t been posting lately because I’ve been busy trying to keep a pony alive. I’ll be back to a semi-regular, maybe-almost-approaching-dependable schedule once that goal is accomplished.