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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Letting Go of Your Bananas

Greetings, Banana Grabbers!

Has anyone ever heard of that letting-go-of-your-bananas story? Somebody at work told me about this story, or theory, or whatever it is, a few weeks ago. It's been on my mind ever since.

Basically, it goes something like this: there's a special kind of monkey trap that's a just a cage filled with bananas. The monkeys come and reach inside the cage to grab the bananas and try to yank them out, all screaming and jumping up and down like madmen (can't you totally picture it?), and of course the bananas are wedged in there so they really don't come out. Then, all the monkey hunter has to do is lift up the whole cage with a rope, and BAM - he's captured all those monkeys who are still hanging there, clutching those bananas.

Of course, the smart monkeys figure out that all they need to do is LET GO. LET GOOOOOOO...

Which brings me to sharing my little story of where I found life this past week. It had to do with that exact thing: letting goooooo of some bananas floating around in my head. That is, it wasn't that I did anything in particular. It was what I didn't do.

As a reminder, my late-afternoon commuting routine goes like this: slam two shots of espresso, hop on hour-long bus to downtown and do intense grading and writing the whole way because that's a perfectly usable hour of life to be productive, arrive in downtown, and immediately hop on bike to race to my house, where infinitely more chores and work-related tasks await me. Bumble through those tasks in a tired state of post-caffeine brain crash, fall into bed - exhausted but unable to sleep - and wonder where the hell the day went. Sounds like great fun, I know.

This time, though:

1) Instead of drinking a pre-bus-ride espresso, I took the brave step of NOT drinking espresso, deciding to give napping a try instead of working, something that truly hadn't occurred to me as a possible way to use that bus time. The whole reason I take the bus is so I can get work done, after all. But this time, I let myself off the hook, snuggled into a window seat, closed my eyes, and dozed the whole way. I ignored the slurred and profanity-filled conversations of the drooly weirdos around me. No dreams, no thoughts. Woke up feeling refreshed and relaxed and wonderful.

2) Instead of immediately hopping on my bike to race home because the clock of life is ticking, I strolled around downtown for about 45 minutes for no purpose other than to look around and see this gorgeous place I live in. Pike Place Market. A lady in an apron singing badly and holding out her hand. A bored-looking, bearded man selling nectarines. A dog with a noodle of saliva hanging off his mouth. I bought a bottle of Perrier mineral water, sat at an outdoor table for five minutes, and drank it slowly. It was fizzy and cold. I went into Barnes and Noble and glanced at the bestseller table, wondering if my book will ever be there. I perused the trashy magazines, discovering that Madonna and Guy Ritchie are getting divorced (gasp!). I caught a whiff of Windex.

3) I rode home and - this time - looked around as much as I could without endangering my life. Houses and trees and sky. Somebody wearing a werewolf mask. A tree with toilet paper hanging from it. A blinking orange sign that said "open."

4) Our friend A called that night. He'd ordered two pizzas -would K and I like to pop over for dinner and TV. We said yes - even though it wasn't on the agenda, wouldn't allow me to chip into my book that evening as planned, and meant that my students would have to wait one more day before getting their graded essays back. I had an awesome, human, life-living time that night.

So that's where I found life last Wednesday, and I repeated the sleeping-and-strolling pattern for the next two days. LIFE!

Now, time to get back to my book - that's one oh-so-yellow-and-sweet banana I can't let go of!


Michelle said...

That sounds like a great time. I have started walking everyday and I find that I enjoy the days my hubby does not come with me because I can take in the beauty of fall, the sounds, the smells. I love it! I am also trying to learn to slow down and appreciate where I am more rather then where I want to be. Sometimes it is a lot easier said than done.

anabelle said...

Sometimes its much harder to let go of the stupid things to live life than it is to live life in a blur. Makes me wonder what the heck human's have done to our own existance. is this truly how we're meant to live?

We're such productive little creatures.... to productive.

Natalie said...

I'm glad you wrote about this... I'm struggling with it right now too. I just rush rush rush lately and don't give myself space to think. Or feel. Or do. I just work and sleep. I don't know how long I can keep living like this.

Nevertheless, I'm very glad you're stopping to look around! Fantastic!

Monica LeMoine said...

Michelle: walking...yes. I love it so much. You know, one thing I love about having a dog is he gives me a reason to go for walks. 'DOH! Wait, never mind! Just remembered - I don't need to have a reason to go for a walk. I can just walk 'cause I feel like it!

Anabelle: yes, we're too productive, to the point of hurting ourselves. I feel this is especially true in America. In other countries where I've lived, it isn't so pronounced, this inability to slow down and LIVE.

SHAZ, if you're reading this, what's your take from a SA/NZ perspective?

Natalie: yes, saw your last post and felt you'd understand.

sharonvw said...

Good for you Mon, its always good to stop and smell the roses1 Enjoy!

jillkitchen said...

I'm so glad you took up the sleeping-strolling pattern. I live my life in a similar state of rush, running from apartment to bus to train to two other trains, eating lunch at my desk and spending my actual lunch hour at work doing homework for class. Then fighting rush hour crowds to get home again so I can collapse and try to get up the courage to wash dishes or do laundry.

The days that I don't fight and rush always wind up being the best - spending my lunch hour strolling through Riverside Park marveling that there are actually trees, and beautiful ones, in New York, noticing the glistening water that frames the city, taking the time at night to drink in the moon when she is full and visible between buildings.

Monica LeMoine said...

Jill - yes, I agree that the sleeping-strolling days are always the best. How strange it is that we have to consciously make an effort to do less!