Elephant Bites

September 8, 2008

One of my favorite mantras is a kid’s joke about how to eat an elephant. The punchline makes it clear that kids think about problems in a purer way than jaded adults, and it helps me remain on track when overwhelmed by deadlines, projects, aspirations and avocational desires.

Right now I’m sitting in the study at my house writing query letters, drinking Wegmans-brand Gatorade and listening to podcasts. I’m trying to figure out how to get everything done (become a more prominent columnist, get clips in ESPN the Mag, Wired, The Boston Globe, and any Rodale Press publication) without losing my mind and without letting household tasks stagnate.

I’m also wondering when I can fit in time to ride my scooter, swing by my parent’s house to say hi and I love you, hold a yard sale (scheduled for this coming Saturday), concentrate on fitness and participate fully in my ongoing relationships.

Then I think of the elephant and it calms me.

Oh, if you’re not familiar with the joke, the punchline essentially says that you can’t eat an elephant all at once and the best way to eat an elephant is in lots of little bites.

So, if you’re paused or frozen or stagnating, think about the great grey mammal and come up with your favorite recipe. I assure you that you’re never going to find a pan or oven or even an open pit big enough to take care of the entire meal at once.

But just thinking about the approach will calm you and put you back on track to getting things done, one bite at a time.

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