Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Sadness: Life’s Most Slippery Slope June 15, 2013

I lost an argument with a fly today. It was an epic battle of the minds, lasting for what seemed like hours. I don’t know when exactly it was he found his way into my forever home, but I knew the moment I saw him he didn’t belong. So I did what any dog would do. I set out on a mission to take him down to Chinatown. Or at least down out of the sky.

It was not my first rodeo of this kind, and I began confident. I jumped, I twisted, I chased, I growled. I came so close to catching him I could taste victory…yet it evaded me. The darned fly flapped its teeny tiny little wings up to the farthest corner of the bedroom ceiling, a place not even a bed would help me reach. I can’t explain what happened next. I was completely overcome with frustration to the point I was almost fearful. It was an unusual turn of emotional events and it took me by surprise.

It’s nothing out of the ordinary for me to follow mom everywhere throughout the house, but in the moment I declared defeat I started snuggling up next to her regardless of where she stopped. I sat and snuggled up to her legs in six different places before she deduced something was awry. She (wrongfully) assumed I had won the victory with the fly when (in fact) I had lost. She told dad she thought I must of swallowed the fly (a theory which lasted about two minutes longer before dad caught and disposed of it).

All SmilesI indeed had not swallowed the fly, but my mind turned to a children’s story involving an old lady who did. In the 1960s author Nadine Bernard penned the story of the woman who swallowed a fly (in addition to all sorts of other things) and the aftermath that ensues.

“I know an old lady who swallowed a fly, but I don’t know why she swallowed a fly…perhaps she’ll die,” the story reads. So the woman does what any woman would do (oh I jest) and swallowed a horse to catch a pig to catch a goat to catch a dog to catch a cat to catch a bird to catch a spider (“that wiggled and jiggled and tickled inside her”) all to catch the teeny tiny fly that started it all.

While it is an admittedly silly story, I think there is a lesson to be learned from the slippery slope it contains. Often negative thoughts begin as tiny flies buzzing around in our minds. The buzzing isn’t so bad at first, but slowly it grows louder and more irritating and before you know it has the power to develop into full-fledged pessimism. This cycle of negativity happened to me relatively quickly today as I found myself waving the white flag of forfeit to the fly who one the battle.

I lost an argument with a fly today. So what? It’s like the great American comedian Lucille Ball once said. “One of the things I learned the hard way is that it doesn’t pay to get discouraged. Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself.” My daily commitment to seeing the best in all people, places and things will not be defeated by this intruder. No sir. That fly may have won the battle, but he cannot win the war. It astounds me how something so tiny somehow be so powerful.