Nala was out of Milk Bones the other day, but the store only had large ones instead of the medium size I normally buy. It couldn’t possibly matter, I thought, and grabbed a box.
At the next scheduled treat time, probably seven seconds later, I gave one to her, but had to convince her to take it. Same flavor, just bigger size. Much bigger size.
I watched that sweet, dainty girl stare at me like she was the opposite of Oliver Twist. “Please, Mom, can I have some less?”
She reluctantly trudged up the stairs to her treat-eating place, the floor of our bedroom, and dropped it. She looked at it. She looked at me. She looked at it again.
I took the hint and broke it in half for her. She looked at the halves. She looked at me. She looked at the halves again.
The only other thing I could do to help her was to eat it myself, but I have my limits.
I went back to work at my desk ten feet away. My back was to her but I heard her plop down on the floor near the broken treat, letting loose with a world-weary sigh.
After about fifteen minutes, I heard her pawing at one of the halves, and then crunching. She had broken one of the halves in half and could now chew it up.
It dawned on me here that she wasn’t just being fussy; she was protecting her aging and not particularly strong teeth. (She had to have a bunch pulled some time back because, I’ve come to learn, greyhounds tend to have bad teeth. Who knew? If you look at that first photo you can see her hillbilly smile.)
As she chomped, methodically powering through her dilemma, it occurred to me that she and I were both protecting ourselves, doing battle with the same demon, albeit in different forms.
I was at my desk trying to muster the courage to face my own big problem, afraid of what would happen when I committed to the enormous bites that stared back at me. I was pretty sure, like Nala, I would likely choke.
As they say in the time management biz, when faced with a huge project, you’ve got to eat your elephant one bite at a time. Or as Ann Lamott says, bird by bird. Or as Nala says, crunch by dainty crunch.
I took it all to heart.
Nala could have walked away from that treat on the floor, but no, she wanted it. Just like I can walk away from these opportunities that are right there for me to pick up. But do I want to? How much do I want them? What level of anxiety can I really handle? What am I really afraid of … the work or the potential for failure? Or admitting my bite was too big?
I’ll be working through these questions for the next couple of months, which in doggy-months is four boxes of medium-sized Milk Bones. I’ll let you know what I decide.
But in the meantime, do you have any advice about facing your fears or making a big decision? How do you decide when the potential prize outweighs the potential pitfalls? How do you know if you’re THISCLOSE to biting off more than you can chew?