Next to the Shinola rule, the next most important rule of human life that one can never afford to forget is the banana peel rule. The banana peel is always there, right where you will know it is. That’s right, we know it’s there, in fact, if you don’t already know about the banana peel, then I’m officially informing you of the existence and the location of the banana peel.
So, what the heck is the banana peel? As is the case with most of the rules of human life, it’s a metaphor for something very important. The banana peel is a catastrophic calamity that befalls a person, just before they win. Or hit the home run. Or finish the big project. Or close the big deal. Or finish the formula that will get you the Nobel Prize. Or finally walking up to the girl that you can’t get out of your head and asking her out. Anything at all that is considered to be a human triumph or victory or accomplishment; big or small, has a banana peel.
This is how it goes. Among the plethora of qualities that abound in a human being, one of the most cantankerous is our incessant like of not using the tools that we have and that are wonderfully effective and powerful and useful in the course of living a human life. In particular, I’m referring about what may be the #1 tool we have, and if it’s not #1, it’s definitely top three. I’m referring to our ability to think; I’m not just talking about the human brain, mind you. A human brain is there regardless of what you do with it but it won’t think unless we will it to, and we won’t will it to until we have no other choice or at the very least if he or she is super hot and irresistible. As long as most people can find a shortcut, a cheat sheet, an advantage, a secret passage, an enchanted potion or even a magic pill that will allow for them to not have to think anything through, they will usually take it, regardless of the risk and only seeing the possibilities if they could actually get away with winning something, or solving a problem, or working to finish something without actually having to think or do anything, if possible. Here’s the math:
Imagine yourself running a race. A competitive foot race, let’s say a thousand meter race. The race itself could represent anything; a job, an idea, a challenge, a problem, life. The starter pistol goes off and you fly into the lead, running like no one has ever run. You are a human gazelle and suddenly you have a one, two, three, five and finally a ten-man lead over the rest of the competition. You are so far ahead that the crowd is in frenzy and your head swims with the thought of the adoration, adulation, fame and fortune that will be heaped upon your feet when you are named as the winner. Suddenly, there it is. You can see it; the finish line. The long tape stretched across the track receives only one of the competitors in its warm embrace. It’s so close that you can smell it and you believe you can actually feel its proximity. You risk a quick look back and the guy who will end up in second place is so far behind you that it is ridiculous. You look at the finish line again and you could swear it was just a few inches away and then at that moment, is when we screw the pooch. That emotion, because it is an emotion, that some call sloth, others call laziness, and a few others even call human nature; kicks in and sends a signal to your conscious rational cognitive thinking mechanism and tells you that you already won. That’s it, nobody can catch you now. You are the king, the winner, numero uno, the top man – and immediately after you believe it, a mere two feet from the finish tape, you stop trying. You figure that the inertia alone will carry you across the finish line well before anyone else catches up and you BELIEVE that you are unstoppable and that certain victory is yours. So you stop thinking and stop paying attention and stop running the race and you start to celebrate! Right there, at that moment; 14 inches before hitting the tape and actually winning, that’s when you slip on the banana peel lying on the track – because you weren’t paying attention – and fall down and bust your ass. You fall so hard that you can’t get up. You may even have a fracture of the hip or the coccyx. You agonize in pain but you can’t get up because your busted your ass when you feel. You try to crawl and begin to sob, thinking you can drag your way across the finish line before anyone else gets near, but you are in too much pain. A slip and bust-your-ass fall on a banana peel during a full-on sprint at the end of a 1000 meter race will bust your ass for real. Suddenly, one, then two, then all of the other runners cross the finish line. The guy that you were laughing at only minutes before because he was going to end up in second place (and everyone knows that nobody remembers who came in second at anything) WON, and the adoration, adulation, triumph and celebrity that were supposed to be yours are taken away just like that.
As you are being carried away in a stretcher to an ambulance, never having actually crossed the finish line at all, you scream, in a fit or pure anger at the sky and complain to whoever it is that you pray to. You complain and say “It’s not fair!” Not fair? What is fair? As the saying goes; it’s not over ‘till it’s over or it’s not over ‘till the fat lady sings, the moral is the same. There’s no excuse for taking your eye off the ball while it’s in play or for slacking off because you believe it’s a “sure thing”. The moment that you do, I promise you; that banana peel will be there, waiting for you. What a person starts, they must finish. Mediocrity is not a human genetic trait. So now you know and because you know, you do not have to slip on the banana peel. Life is a 24 hour a day, 7 day per week job. Nobody gets time off from life, nobody gets a break. The interesting thing is that we should never need to feel like we do. None of us should ever forget about the banana peel, one day our very lives may depend on paying attention to what we’re doing, and if you don’t and then you slip and bust your ass; you know what’s next: I told you so!
We can do better and remember; step OVER the banana peel when you see it.