The phrase used to be “Not my circus, not my monkeys.”
I held tight to that idea for the longest time, kicking pretty hard against what life threw at me.
In some instances, it’s true: Most problems aren’t mine. I have no dog in that fight. No skin in that game. The cliched phrases are endless to explain how one should stay in their lane and let certain people/activities/events/drama/emotions just go. Go. Go. Go.
I most certainly have a circus.
Full of people/activities/events/drama/emotions.
And lots and lots of monkeys.
A dear friend once told me I don’t need to catch every ball thrown at me. This is true. And I’ve learned this skill to a degree. It brings more peace than trying to juggle life events that aren’t mine.
If I don’t catch some of these balls (or get the barking, clapping seals trained well enough to do so) I get hit in the head. Or the gut. Or the heart… (heart punches are the worst)
I didn’t ask to be the circus master. I’ve posted “Now Hiring” fliers for the position, complete with the promise of an epic sign-on bonus, matching 401(k), dental, vision, and a free poodle. Apparently, no one else wants the job, either, no matter how cute the cycling poodles may be.
Poodles still poop.
Elephants, yellow-haired clowns, and flying monkeys do, too.
So what to do?
No one wants tickets to my brand of circus. Even if I managed to sell a few seats, the legal ramifications of an audience member tarrying in my Big Top Tent would be massive.
A well-meaning friend sees me coming and ask what’s wrong. I tell her about one—just one—ring of the circus and her eyes widen slightly, her eyebrows lift, and then she winces.
Another friend checks in. Sick of the Circus Ring One retelling, I tell him about Circus Ring Two. Turns out the eyes/brows/wince thing is universal.
A third friend asks. Ring One, Two, Three, or some other random number? I’ve lost track of the rings. Some circus master I am.
I decide to just smile, nod, and lie. “I’m fine.” They know I’m lying, so I add, “You wouldn’t believe me.”
“Write a book about it.”
The advice is sound. Usually writing makes me feel better, and, more often than not, real life gives great fuel to fiction plots.
But not this time.
Because, you see, fiction must make sense, no matter if you’re reading/watching a true-life memoir or a romping unicorn space adventure complete with pew-pew laser pistols. The tale must have some form of logical foundation or it falls apart. After all, how many times have you read a book or watched a movie and walked away from the experience pointing out all the plot holes?
My circus life has waayyyy too many plot holes. None of which have gaped open large enough to swallow even one pooping, peddling poodle, so the plot holes are good for nothing but drama.
My circus life has waayyyy too many fallacies in logic. I wouldn’t even know where to start writing a memoir. Because I couldn’t market it as true life. It’s too unbelievable.
My circus MAKES NO SENSE! This isn’t how life is supposed to go. I stand in the middle ring complete with my top hat, tailcoat, and whip and shout to the performers, “That’s not how it works! That’s not how any of this works!” But my circus doesn’t listen.
Acceptance is the next level.
Balls will be thrown (and maybe dropped). Poops will be dropped (and maybe thrown). And before the end of the event, more Rings will be added.
I know this now. It’s just how it is.
My circus. My monkeys.
So, back to the What-To-Do-About-It question. I think a two-pronged approach to acceptance is my best bet at this stage.
Number One: Flex. Like tight-rope walker level of flexibility. (Though the rope-walker in my circus is dangling upside down with all her limbs wrapped around the wire. She’s been there for five days. There’s no net, and I’m not likely to purchase one since I can’t seem to sell any tickets. So there she hangs.)
I’ll write when I can.
Laugh when I can.
Take breaks and find quiet time when I can.
Scoop poop and fluff clown wigs when I can. Pluck worn-out flying monkey wings when I can—keep those bad boys in the air.
Number Two: Patience. It’s a big, bad circus. But one thing about circuses that I must remember…
Eventually they pack up and leave town.