Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys.

Group of baboons huddled togetherYes, I know these aren’t really monkeys. They’re baboons. (Although I didn’t know it until I saw the title on the image.)

Wish I could take credit for ferreting out the above clever proverb (little animal joke there), but it’s from the Gretch and Liz “Happier” podcast episode from yesterday. Once again they’ve hit the mail squarely on the head, albeit about a principle I’ve been mulling a lot lately. I just had never heard that particular proverb before. (It’s Polish, and the original says, “Nie mój cyrk, nie moje małpy.“)

As we head farther and farther (or perhaps further and further) into our remodeling project I’ve reminded myself many times, “It’s not my problem” about various and sundry issues. In our most recent glitch, the one about the carpet/tiles/rotten tack strips/etc., my instinct is that justice must be served. I wrote last week about my desire to be proven right . But, as I said some time back, “It is not enough to be right. You must prevail.” I have a tendency to, as the British say, “get up people’s noses.” In other words, I make people mad. Sometimes you have to give the guilty party a chance to save face and feel like a good guy. Every fiber of my being rebels against such an idea, but there it is.

So Jim and his dad are dealing with the carpet company. I’ve had some editorial input into the latest communique, a nicely-worded letter to the vice president (of the company, that is–not Mike Pence). When this is all over I’ll give the name. I don’t think it would be fair to put it in now when they haven’t given us a final answer. They are a locally-owned firm, and I’m reasonably/fairly sure that they’re going to make things right eventually. There have been many times over the past year or so when I’ve said to myself, “Let Jim deal with this problem. Let it go. It’s not your job.” Is it up to me to decide the final resting place of stuff that belongs to Jim? No. Is it my job to get the return made for the serving pieces I bought and now see aren’t the right color? Yes. That huge box has been sitting in the entryway of this house for over a week. I’ve now called them twice and e-mailed them once. It’s my job to get the towel racks and the curtain rods bought. It’s not my job to figure out the proper support piece on the side of the dishwasher for the new countertops. It is my job to take back the sample we got from the local company and have now decided not to use. (I’m really sorry about that decision, but what can you do when you can save $600 by going with the big-box store?) It’s so, so helpful to ask myself, “Is this my job?” But now I can ask the question in a more colorful way: “Is this my monkey?”

As I look back over my life, and especially over the 25 years of my marriage, I sincerely wish I’d grasped this concept sooner. It’s amazing how useful it is, how much conflict it avoids.

Try it yourself and see. And be sure to listen to the podcast!



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