21 August, 2013

The Piñata's Apprentice

Some week-end events reminded me of this story which I first heard over a decade ago. It has me thinking about a life lesson with which I sometimes struggle.

Two young men are bungee-jumping one day, and the first fellow says to the second, "You know, we could make a lot of money running our own bungee-jumping service in Mexico." The second fellow thinks this is a great idea. So they pool their money and buy everything they'll need - a tower, an elastic cord, insurance, etc.

They travel to Mexico and begin to set up business in the town plaza. As they construct the tower, a crowd begins to assemble, and slowly more and more people gather to watch them at work.

When they finish the tower, the first young man jumps. He bounces at the end of the cord, but when he comes back up, the second fellow notices he has a few cuts and scratches. Unfortunately, the second guy isn't able to catch him, and he falls again.

He bounces and comes back up again. This time he is bruised and bleeding. Again, the second fellow just misses catching him. The first fellow falls a third time. This time, he bounces and comes back in pretty bad shape; he's got a couple of broken bones and is almost unconscious.

Luckily, the other young man finally catches him and asks, "What happened? Is the cord too long?"

The now desperate fellow moans, "No, the cord is perfect. What the hell is a piñata?"

So ... there's a time and a place for everything. It's really not that hard a lesson to learn. Or so one might think.

Surely we have all - at one time another - been impressed by our own brilliance. Great ideas, profound wisdoms, creative solutions, inventions - and all guaranteed to make us wealthy. Damn, we're good!

Knowing what to do with it and just when to do it, however, is usually somehow just out of reach. For me, it's usually a brilliant thought that I should have left unexpressed and invariably wish I hadn't been so eager to share. It happened again recently, and I'm sure it will probably recur still yet again.

I'm not sure why sometimes I just can't help myself, but I'd like to think I'm getting better at withholding whatever it is for at least a modicum of time while I continue to refine it or, better yet, maybe just keep that brilliance for myself.

I guess I'm still learning, and I should take some solace from that fact. It's when we stop learning, after all, that life becomes boring, and I'm certain don't want that.