Thursday, February 18, 2010

On eating an elephant

I heard my father's voice last week when I went to shovel the 2-plus feet of snow in front of my car, with a heavy heart. He asked, "do you know how to eat an elephant?"
I forced a chuckle, "what?"
He repeated himself and I more appropriately responded, "no, how?"
"One bite at a time," he explained.
Eight or nine years ago, as I whined about being overwhelmed during my early graduate school days, he told me to take it one step at a time, that I couldn't take on the entire beast at one time. He helped me to calm down and not get so overanxious that I become unproductive, rather to move slowly, steadily through the process.

In the cold, as I looked at the snow mound, looked at the future and thought this is impossible, this will take forever, how can I do this, my father whispered, one bite, one shovel-full at a time. And I very slowly and steadily shoveled.

Then my 55+ year old snow angel came out with her shovel and said, "I thought she can't do this by herself," and she helped me two shovel-fulls at a time. We talked and laughed and shoveled. Her steadiness and willingness showed me that my strength is present, maybe a little buried under some flakes, but alive.

Then another snow angel appeared and helped me break through the ice around my car "to help [me] get the babies in the car safely." These women with lives of their own became my brother and my mother, my family, my strength, my help. They showed me my inner strength and helped remind me that I need people in order to be strong.

My daddy's whispers of one bite at a time, my family's ear, shoulder, support, my friends' shovels help me to eat every elephant placed in front of me.

No comments:

Post a Comment