Eeyore and Chicken Little
Most of us are familiar with the two fictional figures I mention here. Both of them are famous anthropomorphic characters who have made up part of the fabric of the childhood for many of us who are “of a certain age.” Although I don’t often look to Wikipedia for any sort of definitive information, I will paste in their descriptions here:
Eeyore is a character in the Winnie-the-Pooh books by A. A. Milne. He is generally characterized as a pessimistic, gloomy, depressed, anhedonic, old grey stuffed donkey who is a friend of the title character, Winnie-the-Pooh. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eeyore)
Chicken Little (when you type it into Wikipedia, you get Henny Penny) Henny Penny, more commonly known in the United States as Chicken Little and sometimes as Chicken Licken, is a European folk tale with a moral in the form of a cumulative tale about a chicken who believes that the world is coming to an end. The phrase “The sky is falling!” features prominently in the story, and has passed into the English language as a common idiom indicating a hysterical or mistaken belief that disaster is imminent. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henny_Penny)
So why do I bring this up today? Well, I have noticed for some time that many of my friends and acquaintances fall into one or both of these energies lately. Now, many of us know people like this even in the best of times. Some people are just downers and others are consistently prone to panic about everything. That’s part of life, navigating relationships with people like that.
What I’m talking about now, however, are the specific “Eeyore” and “Chicken Little” energies related to our current world situation. It’s making me weary.
Now, the Chicken Littles of my life are not to hard to deal with. Everyone has a moment of overreaction to something. For instance, you might read an alarming news report that indicates there will never be a cure of the virus and we are all going to die. Then, in panic, you rush to social media and text and messenger and Zoom and whatever to “warn” everyone that they need to prepare for the worst. If this doesn’t become a pervasive or consistent thing, then I can take a deep breath and let the well-intentioned friend just have their freak out.
The problem comes for me when the Chicken Littles seem to have become permanently fixed in that energy. I have a few of those in my life – people who are obsessing on the news, gathering every fact they can find and then “for my own good” try to force me to see whatever truth they think I am not seeing. If this is you, then I have one piece of advice.
Stop. Just stop.
I am not a dufus. I can read. I have critical thinking skills. I don’t need anyone to treat me like I am some kind of ostrich with my head buried in the sand. Just because I try to keep a – more or less – positive view of things does not mean that I am an uninformed cretin.
The worse of the two energies for me, though, is the Eeyore. The Wikipedia definition – as many pretentious entries on that website – uses the term “anhedonic” to describe Eeyore. That’s an overly-pretentious way of saying that not only is Eeyore a pessimist, but he lacks the drive or even desire to find pleasure in anything. He actually derives some kind of validation or warped pleasure from being so gloomy and pessimistic.
I have a few Eeyores in my life, and for the most part I have been able to handle their pervasive pessimism without losing my equanimity. No longer. I understand being occasionally depressed. I even understand a more long-term kind of depression. I have empathy for that. What drives me totally nuts now are the people who project nothing but doom and gloom, but seem to lack even the remotest desire to find a better way of looking at the world.
Frankly, if you are enjoying your pain then feel free to keep on doing it. It’s your journey. But for the sake of all that’s holy, please don’t feel the need to inflict that pain on me. I have my own painful issues to navigate, and trying to remain equanimous while listening to the ten thousandth iteration of “there’s no hope and we are all totally screwed” is not on my list of “things I really want to experience” today.
I’m not talking about being a good friend and listening to someone who needs a shoulder to cry on. I am always here for my friends who are melting down and need to vent or cry or whatever. So don’t think I am saying I don’t ever want to hear anything negative. What I am talking about are people who just feel like it’s their job to share their doom and gloom all the time but then refuse to hear any other point of view. That’s utterly exhausting to me.
I choose to remain positive. We will have live performance again soon. We will have open restaurants and bars. We will be able to meet in person and hug each other. We aren’t all going to die in the zombie apocalypse right now.
It’s time for Eeyore and Chicken Little to go off and quarantine together for a while and leave me in peace.
It’s only Quarantine if it comes from the Quarante province of France. Otherwise, it’s just Sparkling Isolation.