THERE’S A PARABLE that I don’t claim to have authored, but which I think about at the beginning of each year.
A man became justifiably upset when he realized his home had been invaded by crocodiles. He wasn’t sure where they came from, but they were there, lurking and menacing him.
He went to a local store to ask for a solution. The salesman enthusiastically proffered his answer: kittens. Kittens are cute, their purr is soothing and, best of all, the store had a lot of them. The man bought some and took them home.
When he saw a crocodile, the man grabbed a kitten or two and stroked them. They were cuddly, but they didn’t help. The man could still see crocodiles move in the shadows. He could hear them hiss. Even when he didn’t see or hear them, he worried about accidentally stepping on one. The croc’s numbers seemed to be growing.
He went back to the store, but the salesman just said the man didn’t have enough kittens to get his mind off the crocs. Many successful people, the salesman added, have lots of kittens, so the man bought more.
The cycle kept going—more crocs, more kittens—until one day the man realized he didn’t have enough money or room for yet more kittens. As he sat desperately wondering what to do, a croc slid right up to his feet and offered a menacing smile. The man, exasperated and full of frustration, jumped up, grabbed the crocodile by the tail and hurled it out the window. The croc disappeared from his life.
Inspired, the man then went to each crocodile in his home and threw them out. Some were out in the open and easily found. Some were hidden and had to be rooted out. Eventually, though, the man freed his house and his life of crocodiles.
He was content for the first time in a long time. He didn’t have to avoid places in his home. He felt like a worrisome burden had been lifted. He did still have to figure out how to feed and care for all the kittens, though.
I wish you a great 2022—and I hope you take time to address the crocodiles in your life before you buy too many kittens.