Every now and then, just when I start to feel an eensy bit okay about myself and my future, the Internet comes along like a raging crosstown and sprays me with rancid Chinatown garbage water until I go back inside and cry under my bed on a pillow of dust and dog hair.
This time, the glaring evidence that I’m a spineless weenie came in the form of this video of a guy cleaning out a cobra pit…with real, live, hissing cobras in it. Lots of cobras. (As if that matters; one cobra would make me pee myself.) Here, look:
There’s something undeniably Zen (and yet thrilling) about the nonchalant way this guy grabs a flared, erect snake and tosses it aside. One after the other! Grab/toss, grab/toss, each one creating a pile of horrible, angry enemies just behind him that he largely ignores.
I want to be like this guy more than anything in the world.
Forget this creepy huckster and his soulless, sociopathically self-serving brand of self-help. If Timothy Ferriss is the juiced-up guru for Patrick Bateman types with an irritating amount of energy and disconcerting lack of virtue, the guy cleaning cobra pits is the real deal. He’s the motivational idol for DIYers with pickling fetishes. Back to basics! What’s Facebook? Grab snake and toss. Grab/toss.
He doesn’t cheat the snakes and win a Chinese Kickboxing Championship by pushing his opponents out of the box, and – as far as the video shows – he doesn’t taunt them or traumatize them. He just wants to clean up their poop and eggs without them being all up in his face. Shut your hole, snake. Toss.
This was an epiphany for me today, as I peer over the lip of depression, as I hunt for jobs and talk myself out of each one, as I become less and less sure of my capabilities, my worth, my ideas. As I stare at the words of my book on the screen and think “I’m going to write a shitty book about my mother’s death and our life together and what loss and trauma are like, so I should just stop now.”
This is now on a Post-It above my computer:
1. Grab snake
If you stop to think, you get scared and freeze. The snake can sense your fear and it will strike. The snake in this metaphor being, for me, self-doubt (or the overwhelming urge to refill the birdfeeder, clean the grout with a toothbrush, or any other number of things that aren’t finding work or writing my book). In that sense, Timothy Ferriss does have a point that’s helpful to a lot of fear-frozen individuals: you might have to be a cocky wanker in the face of all those “Nos” and “Can’ts.”
Or you can simply clean the cobra pit.
- This enlightening take on snake handling from a former Buddhist monk. (Note to self: do not try to see most recent past life while in Savasana pose at yoga.)
- This enlightening take on Tim Ferriss from someone who knew him pretty well. In case you just picked up his book and think he’s the Greatest Ever Ever! and haven’t yet digested and fully evacuated from your being the enormous, toxic crapload he’s filled you with.