Jon's Blog: A Lion Looking at a Stool

I have lots of useless trivia in my head (names of the Bond films in order and who played Bond in each, check), but one anecdote has recently come back to mind.  Years ago, I heard that lion taming works because tamers use a stool with three legs, and wave it at the lion.  Apparently, the lion looks at all three legs and gets so overwhelmed by focusing on so many things at once that it is paralysed and so doesn't attack the tamer.  (Legal Disclaimer: I've not been brave enough to try it myself, so I don’t know if the lion would just eat me and the stool.)

Whether or not that anecdote is true, since Lockdown I've been feeling much like I imagine that lion felt when someone shoved a stool in its face.  Work is carrying on, the kids are at home all of the time, school is providing lots of learning for them to do and it seems everyone wants to organise a Zoom meeting.  (Actually, that's four things so I'm looking at a slightly bigger stool than the lion who only had to look at three.  Maybe lions don't use Zoom.)  It's very easy to feel constantly a bit overwhelmed by trying to keep on top of everything at the same time.

In saying this, I'm conscious that I'm very blessed.  I do have a job which is carrying on, with excellent remote working facilities and a hugely supportive team.  We have a good sized house with some outside space and lots of digital distractions (Disney+, I love you).  We have kids who are knuckling down well although it's clearly a difficult situation for them.  School is giving us lots of great resources to use, and my wife is being amazing about the homeschooling and our family life.  So I keep reminding myself to be grateful for the boat in which we're weathering this storm.

It might then reflect badly on me, but in the midst of it all I nevertheless regularly feel quite overwhelmed.  I suppose that's not unexpected because a lot of the support that I'm used to has been taken away – school, clubs, outings, time with family and friends – so my wife and I need to do more, whilst still doing most of the things that we were doing previously.  I'm also quite an introvert, so I'm struggling with losing the boundaries around my own time and space that used to be there.

I've tried to take a page out of the lion's book to help deal with this, focusing on one stool leg at a time.  I've found it really helpful to reflect on a line from very old prayer you might have learned at school – "Give us this day our daily bread".  That prayer has been answered and, so far, each individual day and each individual demand has been fine.  I just need to try and keep remembering that next time it feels Lockdown is waving its stool at me.

Jon is the father of two delightful boys, with a fantastic wife who also works four days a week.  They are both lawyers, and Jon has worked in the City for around 15 years as a solicitor in the insurance industry.

Category: A Cityfather's Diary

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