Jimmy’s staring at election news, and I’m staring at this blank page. We’re so depressed about Trump, we’re barely talking about it. I feel like his election can only be a sign that the apocalypse is near. Maybe tomorrow morning this will seem like a major overstatement. I’m trying to focus on the thought that there have allegedly been a lot of times in American history when people felt doomed, yet they lived through it.

I don’t remember how I came across this book, “The Slight Edge.” I just want to get to the frog story that follows, that’s from the book, because it’s hopeful. But Olson’s premise is this:  you don’t have to be brilliant to get the things you want in life, you just need the slight edge. The slight edge is:  Simple productive actions repeated consistently over time. The little, seemingly undramatic, mundane choices you make every single day make all the difference when compounded over time. (I seriously don’t give a shit about any of this either–the world’s going to end!! Okay, wait for the frog story. There’s a LOT of weight being heaved onto the shoulders of the frog story! I hope it holds up.)



Olson observes that people don’t consistently do the simple things (put away a little money, work out for 20 minutes, read a few pages of an inspiring book every day, choose a salad over a cheeseburger, etc.) for three reasons: 1) While these things are easy to do, they’re also easy not to do; 2) You don’t see any results at first; 3) They seem insignificant, like they don’t matter. But they do.

He includes a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Do the thing, and you shall have the power.”

And now here’s the frog story:


Two frogs left the safety of their swamp one day and ventured into a nearby farm to explore. Soon they found themselves in a dairy, where they found a large milk pail. Hopping into the pail, they found it was half filled with fresh cream.

The two little frogs were absolutely thrilled. They had never tasted anything so delicious! Soon their bellies were full. Feeling sleepy, they decided it was time to leave–and that’s when they realized they were in trouble.

They had no trouble hopping in. But how were they going to get out? The inside of the pail was too slippery to climb. And because they couldn’t reach the bottom and there was nothing for them to step on for traction, hopping to safety was out of the question, too. They were trapped.

Frantic, they began thrashing about, their feet scrabbling for a foothold on the elusive, slippery curve of the pail’s sides.

Finally, one frog cried out, “It’s no use. We’re doomed!”

“No,” the other frog gasped, “we can’t give up. When we were tadpoles, could we have dreamed that some day we would emerge from the water and hop about on land? Swim on, brother, and pray for a miracle!”

But the first frog only eyed his brother sadly. “There are no miracles in the life of a frog,” he croaked. “Farewell.” And he sank slowly out of sight.

The second frog refused to give up. He continued paddling in the same tiny circle, over and over, hoping against hope for a miracle. An hour later, he was still paddling in his futile little circle. He no longer even knew why. His brother’s dying words clutched at his thoughts as fatigue tugged at his tiny muscles. “Was my brother right?” he thought desperately. “Are there no miracles in the life of a frog?” Finally he could swim no more. With a whimper of anguish, he stopped paddling and let go, ready to face his fate…

Yet to his surprise, unlike his brother, the second frog did not sink. In fact, he stayed right where he was, as if suspended in midair. He stretched out a foot tentatively–and felt it touch something solid. He heaved a big sigh, said a silent farewell to his poor departed brother frog, then scrambled up onto the top of the big lump of butter he had just churned, hopped out of the pail and off toward his home in the swamp.


10 Replies to “”

  1. Well I’m going to make some butter. As I told my husband (while trying to prepare him for what I was sure was Hillary’s impending presidency), our system is set up in a way as to assure that no one man or woman can sink it or even accomplish all that much. Sure they can embarrass us and potentially hurt international diplomacy, maybe even start a war, but the SNL skits will be fantastic and we will all emerge out the other side. The only thing that we have absolute control over is our own actions, so be ebullient and non douchey and make some butter. I really hope that my theory holds water. If not I will end up killing my husband in his sleep and moving to Canada.

  2. I am so deeply depressed, saddened and afraid for our country – for civil rights, for minority rights, for women’s rights … for the environment, for education, for decency. I am afraid of being forced into another war. I sadly believe that truly “pay to play” will become the rule of our government. I don’t know what else to say. I’m going to keep swimming and hoping, but I need a little time.

    1. I feel you. We are talking about all the same issues over here. To me, the most pressing concern is climate change. We were already needing to do anything we could to slow it, and now it’ll likely be expedited with the rollback of environmental protection laws, etc.

  3. Thanks for this, Courtney…I’m numb, I think. Despondent…I think even to remember that there are human beings I care for deeply will start to ease this abyss – or at least hopefully….am trying….may need to eat some butter tonight – just ‘cuz

    1. Despondent is what I’m feeling, too. And I too have been reminding myself of all the things I love. I have to plan my next shoot but I can’t see the point of making something right now–or, it’s more like all topics except my most pressing concerns seem trivial right now. I know this will pass, even though it seems like it never will, and I can’t wait until it does. Yes, butter!! Or some other comfort food!!

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