Skip to main content

Living in the Monkey House

I picked up a copy of Tim Gunn's "Gunn's Golden Rules:  Life's Little Lessons for Making It Work," at the Dollar Tree and happened on this passage that I think applies to a whole lot of people in life:

When presented with bizarre circumstances -- such as radical (and radically unappealing) cosmetic surgery -- I'll mutter, "That person is living in the monkey house."

What does this phrase mean?  I'm assuming that most readers have been to a monkey house at a zoo. The stench of it is like nothing I've experienced.  Every time I visit, I can't help but declare, "This place stinks!"  Well, after about ten or fifteen minutes, it no longer smells as bad.  And after half an hour, it doesn't smell at all.

The trouble with that is the following:  It still stinks.  We're merely used to it, so the smell disappears to us.  However, anyone walking into the monkey house anew is going to scream, "This place stinks!"

Tim Gunn, "Gunn's Golden Rules:  Life's Little Lessons for Making It Work," at p. 171.

There are a whole lotta folks I know who are living in the monkey house, myself included.

How often do we accept the bizarre or the substandard in our lives because we're used to it and, even worse, it's all we know?  I know folks who are putting up with bizarre situations because they either fear moving out of those situations or they simply don't know any other way to live.  Some are happier than pigs in you-know-what living in their monkey houses because they don't want to make the effort to get out of them.

I realized my co-workers and I have been living in the monkey house when an outsider made a remark about how we carry on our business in a way like no other agency, and she didn't mean it in a good way.  We'd been doing the same thing for some long without any outside observation that it just stopped being bizarre to us.  That didn't mean what we were doing wasn't bizarre; it just meant that we'd gotten used to it, and, up until recently, no one had ever told us how bizarre what we were doing was.

When confronted with the stench of our own monkey houses, oftentimes we respond, "But this is the way we've always done it."  That's why Tim Gunn has banned this phrase from his office, stating, "There's always room for improvement."  So true.

I doubt I'll be able to convince my co-workers, family and friends that they are living in the monkey house.  At least I'm one step ahead of the game because, unlike them, I haven't lost my sense of smell, so to speak.  I know a monkey house when I smell it.

Comments

Cami-Can said…
"But this is the way we've always done it." - the one phrase that is guarunteed to suck the life out of anything you do. Here's to keeping our noses opened to know when it smells!

Popular posts from this blog

Retired Man Walking: Too Young to Retire, Too Old to Take Shit

A while back I ran into a friend and fellow professional employed by the State of California, and he offered me his perspective on State employment as a tail-end Baby Boomer like myself -- someone who can't retire because he lacks the requisite age or years of service, but, unlike myself, is tired of taking shit from superiors who don't know what to do with you.

Although my friend gave his permission for me to use his name in this blog entry, I decline to do so because what he does is so specialized that it would not be hard for anyone to identify him as one of the few African American men, if not the only African-American man, in California state civil service who does what he does. For purposes of this blog entry, I will refer to him as he now refers to himself:  Retired Man Walking.

Retired Man Walking, or RMW, has an interesting philosophy he applies to working for the State as a professional who isn't old enough to retire but has been around long enough to know the s…

My Prayer and Mantra for 2017 -- Do Not Waste Time on People and Things That Don't Matter

In this era of fake news, fake political candidates, and fake people all around, my prayer and mantra for 2017 is simple:  Do not waste time on people and things that don't matter.

In 2016, I spent too much time and money on things and people who didn't matter.  I allowed myself to become distracted by stuff that, for me and Black Man Not Blogging, didn't really matter for our happiness.  These distractions not only didn't improve the quality of our life together; they decreased it with additional and unnecessary stress.

The good news is that, for the most part, we're okay.  Yeah, Trump and his ilk really suck, but instead of a lot of hand wringing and commiserating, I'm going to do the one thing my late mother She Who  Is Exalted (SWIE) did better than anyone I know:  Play the hand you've been dealt.  My mother was a black female without a college education and with six kids, so playing the hand she was dealt was her survival skill.  Now it will be mine.

S…

Hillary Clinton Can Stop Trump -- If She Releases Her Electors

Hillary Clinton isn't going to be President of the United States.  At least not yet.  And not in 2017.

But she can possibly stop Donald Trump from being President by releasing her pledged electors  in the Electoral College to vote for a compromise Republican candidate.

This is part of the strategy of the Hamilton Electors, members of the Electoral College who see that Donald Trump is not qualified to be President.  They argue that the Electoral College's role is not to rubber-stamp the popular vote -- which, in this case, would belong to Clinton -- but to serve as a check on the popular vote to make sure that no one who is unfit assumes the office of President.

According to the Hamilton Electors, named for Founding Father Alexander Hamilton (Yes, he of the very popular musical for which I can't get tickets) Hamilton stated that the Electoral College's test for fitness to be the President was as follows (and I'm quoting):

Election of a Qualified Person: As Hamilton s…