Red Leigh Cooper

Red Leigh Cooper

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

You can take the donkey or you can take the tram...

    I love comedian Ron White.  He told this story in his "You Can't Fix Stupid" comedy tour:

    "So we make it to Santorini, and Santorini is on the rim of an ancient volcano. And for 2000 years, folks, the only way to get to the top of the rim on the port side of the island was to take a donkey 800 feet up these switchbacks, takes forever. Until 5 years ago, somebody installed a tram that does the same thing in 18 seconds. And I was shocked to see the donkey guy still in business because he had the worst sales pitch I had ever heard in my life. He says, "You can take the donkey to the top of the rim, or you can take the tram. It is the same price." That would be my biggest secret if I were you, buddy. I'd be lying to people as soon as they got off the ship. "The donkey is $3.50. The tram is about 2800 Euro."

    What I didn't realize, and probably Ron didn't realize, is this is a great analogy for facing whatever the thing is you need to do with your life, considering that is "the top of the rim..."

     I credit my husband, Eric, for bringing this to my attention.  Remember, I've been studying John Ortberg's The Me I Want to Be, and I was talking about how the study ended.  Otberg talks about finding your "mountain" or your challenge in life.  I guess the "mountain" is very much like the "starfish," and everyone has their metaphor, so you get the point.  It's what happens when I get to the "mountain," "starfish," or what have you, that made Eric spout off this particular Ron White quote...

    ...I quite nearly curl up in the fetal position with overwhelmedness (I don't even know if that's a real word, but describes the situation quote perfectly).

     I get to the "mountain," "starfish," again, what have you, and I just can't take another step towards it.  I talked a little bit before about feeling overwhelmed before (see "Put One Foot in Front of The Other," October 5, 2011), and now that it seems I really understand what that Starfish is bobbing in the water - or the "mountain" or what have you - the feeling of moving forward is getting well...overwhelming...

     The mountain looming above my head is huge... unfortunately I feel like I'm on the donkey.  There is so much to do and it will take so long to do it...and where in the heck is that freaking tram!  How can the tram and the donkey be the same price!?!  Ron's right; worst sales pitch ever!

    ...Or was it?

    Have you ever seen Santorini, Greece?

     And here's a donkey...

       But I digress...

       Look back at the first picture!  Gorgeous!  I encourage you to Google "Santorini" and really look at the pictures.  Absolutely stunning.  Why would I want to take the tram and miss all the beauty along the way...

       ...welcome to my new metaphor...

      If I don't take the "donkey" I'm going to miss the experience of going up to the "the top of the rim."  I won't absorb all of the beauty of the creation.  If I take the "tram" the experience will be fast and ultimately not as satisfying on some levels. The "donkey" and the "tram" are the same price.  You get there whether you dive fully into creation or cut corners just to get it over with, but shouldn't your "rim," "mountain," "starfish,' or what have you, be something you take your time with, enjoy the journey with, and put your soul into? Something of which you aren't racing to get to the end?  Something that shouldn't make you feel overwhelmed because it isn't stronger than you; it is you...

     I still remember standing in the kitchen telling Eric about the concept of the "mountain" and my reluctance to go up it.  He turns to me and says, "You can take the tram, or you can take the donkey; it is the same price."  Maybe Ron White didn't realize his routine would become a great analogy, but my husband did. 

    The Lenten season for Christians is upon  us.  Lent is more than giving up something you love like chocolate, coffee, or cheese for forty days and then go right back to consumption.  Lent is a season of soul-searching, reflection and taking stock.  I try to give up what I would consider a "bad habit" of sorts.  Something that at the end of forty days, could really change my life...

     ...For the next forty days, and just maybe from now on, I'm taking the donkey.

Happy Fishing!



  1. Nice. We are often too eager for what lies ahead, and we forget about the asses who travel with us.

  2. Dana, this spoke to me. Thanks. -Deborah

  3. Thank you, Deborah! See you on the donkey! ; ) (Although I have to say if I ever went to Santorini, I don't know if I could take like a whole day on a donkey...might need to think about taking the tram...)