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Lessons from a Banana Skin

7 June 2012 No Comment

Slipping up on an banana skin is a standard slapstick gag. It’s the stuff of cartoons with no more basis in reality than Wiley Coyote running off the edge of a cliff and not realising he’s suspended in mid-air until he looks down.

Or so I thought.

I was crossing a busy street a couple of days ago, totally concentrated on avoiding the speeding cars. This particular stretch of road seems to attract large numbers of drivers who consider stopping at pedestrian crossings to be optional. Suddenly I found myself sprawled across the tarmac (I think it was on one of the white stripes of the crossing) wondering what had hit me. Turned out it was a banana skin.

Not a big deal in itself, especially as I escaped with only minor bruising to my right ankle and my pride. Yet it got me thinking. Why had this freakishly cartoon incident happened?

Here’s what I came up with.

1. Garbage disposal

Don’t throw your garbage, especially pieces of fruit, in the street – someone might get killed.

My guess is the skin was thrown out the window by a banana eating driver who didn’t want to carry it around in his/her car all day. Easy just to wind down the window and chuck it. It got me wondering where exactly does my own garbage go. I think I know the answer – land fill, most likely. I prefer not to think about it because the idea of locking my waste into a hole in the ground for the next x centuries is not a pretty one. And I do try to cut down on how much waste I produce – and could surely do much more.

Question to myself – how many metaphorical banana skins am I leaving behind as I journey through my life?

2.   Butterflies in the Amazon

Whenever we do something we set off a chain of events. Me hitting the road was only one link of a whole series of inter-connected moments.

Who had thrown the banana skin? What untold events in this person’s life led to them dispose of it this way? Where had the banana come from? How had it reached Romania (no banana plantations here that I know of)? Who grew it? Picked it? What did the grower spend the money on they received for it? Who else was involved in getting the banana here? What series of historical events led to all the inventions that allowed it get here? And don’t get me started on evolution!

These were just a few of the rather humbling questions that came to mind. Actually it helped me change my perception of the driver who threw it when I saw them as a very small link in the chain. Tiny even. And the chain continued because the skin was gone an hour later when I returned.

Where? Who picked it up? …

3.  Look down from time to time

I don’t want to live my life looking for things to trip up on, fall over or slip on. I prefer to keep my head high, see where I’m going and live in the bigger picture of my existence.

But there are small things in front of us that can stop us in our tracks if we don’t pay attention. It’s a good idea to do a quick check on ground level from time to time just to see what banana skins might be on the horizon.

Hopefully none, but a quick look down is all it would have taken.

4.  Falling on a banana skin is pretty funny

I don’t always have an easy time seeing the funny side of things when I’m in the middle of it. I also don’t like humour that plays on the misfortune of others.

Having said that, slipping up on a banana skin, providing no-one gets hurt, is actually quite amusing. In fact, what this proved to me is my reaction to things is entirely a matter of choice. I knew it already but it was a useful reminder. I could have got really irate and held a grudge against the always-to-be-nameless B-S dropper. I could have felt real sorry for myself all day and done the ‘poor me’ routine’ with anyone with patience and no sense of humour.

Or I could have accepted it, enjoyed it and shared the story for the amusement of others.

Like writing about it for example.

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