How do you eat an elephant?
One bite at a time.
But how do you start eating an elephant? I mean, I just can’t quite imagine a large temperamental pachyderm (or even a calm one!) allowing a human to just walk up and take a bite out of its thigh!
And yet this ridiculous analogy is bandied about as a quite reasonable approach to tackling large projects. Like a thesis. Or organising an out of control mess.
I have an elephant problem.
The thesis elephant, let’s call him Humphrey, is asleep in a corner, snoring gently. But I know that one day I am going to have to either eat him or turf him out.
The messy elephant is a pet I have had all my life, but she is getting bigger and my husband seems to be allergic to her. I don’t mind her, I’m used to her and she doesn’t bother me much, except if I tread in a pile of poo, but I am careful where I step. (How far can I stretch this analogy I wonder?) I’ll call her Zaza.
Then there is the small but troublesome admin elephant. He can be called Adam. He hides behind Zaza and Humphrey, but likes to jump out on me, which he seems to find great fun, but although he is only a small elephant, he is still too big and heavy to play that game! Because he hides a lot I can ignore him most of the time, although he can be quite noisy, trumpeting from his hidey hole and making me jump. I’m a bit afraid of him. I wish he’d leave me alone.
These are the elephants that live in my house. There is another one lurking in the garden. She is a bit wild. She can be friendly, but needs more work than I can give her. Poor Flower.
All these elephants take up a lot of room. They are not easy to live with. But I don’t really know what to do with them. I don’t want to eat them! I might not have to. Humphrey is totally optional. I could eat him if I chose, or his smaller sister, Phyllis. Or I could turn him loose.
But Zaza has to be dealt with, as it might come down to her or my husband, and I like him, I’d prefer to hang on to him!
So back to the original question – how to eat an elephant.
There are a number of problems which really need to be dealt with first, before one can even consider chowing down on elephant steak.
1) Elephants are big and dangerous! First ensure the elephant is dead. Also, if there is more than one elephant, decide which to tackle first – what is harder than eating an elephant? Eating two elephants.
2) Elephants have really thick hide and humans have small weak jaws and blunt teeth. The elephant would need to be skinned and butchered.
3) With the best will in the world, one human trying to consume all that meat just could not outpace decomposition! The bits of meat have to be preserved and stored, by drying, salting or freezing.
4) Humans struggle to digest raw meat, it would need to be cooked, plus it is not healthy to just eat meat with no vegetables!
Although this sounds like me being silly (who, me? :D) the points can also be applied to the project the elephant represents. Planning and preparation are vital. Help is often needed. The right tools and storage facilities are a good idea. Projects can be scary until they are broken down into small manageable parts.
Do you have any good recipes for elephant? (Not literally! I never have and never intend to actually eat elephant! It’s a metaphor.)