Did you ever play Crack the Whip as a kid? It’s where a bunch of kids line up and hold the next one’s hand and the leader of the line runs crazily in random directions. The rest of the kids follow (like a whip). When inevitably two kids lose their grip and the whip breaks, those two kids are out of the game, the whip reconnects and the carnage continues. If you’re the unlucky one at the end of the whip, you get thrown violently to and fro. Great fun! Right up there with Dodge Ball and Red Rover, Red Rover. It’s amazing any of us survived to adulthood. I remember being the caboose (end of the line) one time in my junior high gymnasium and being cracked into the cement wall. Two badly sprained fingers later, I decided maybe it wasn’t such a good game.
I visit with a lot of people, and lately I’ve been encountering a recurring theme. People don’t come out and use these exact words, but they’re feeling as though their life is a game of crack the whip and they’re the caboose. The world seems to be whipping out of control and whatever force is “cracking the whip,” is more malevolent than benevolent. Distracted, depressed, dis-oriented; these are the words I hear. I see lots of “advice” online: take a social media break, channel your feelings into making a difference; breathe…
I have two other ideas: first, let go of the whip. Just let go. Don’t let yourself be the caboose, tossed and torn by what’s going on about you. Each of us has to learn the techniques that work for us, but the tighter we hold on, if we’re the caboose, we’re going to be swung to and fro with no control. Second, if we refuse to let go or it’s not our way, then start our own whip. The leader of the whip is in control, can set the direction, and anticipate the rough spots and maneuver around them.
I spent the last two weeks sick as can be with a respiratory virus. Plus, I coughed so hard I threw my back out. I have been the caboose of my own life lately and have had to learn all over again that it’s not that great of a game.