Over the Hill on the Yellow Brick Road, I wandered past a house and heard the front door slam. An antique tea kettle stomped away from the door furiously. She was coming toward me and shouted:
TEA KETTLE: Screw this! I’ve had it! I’m outa here!
If you don’t mind that I’m asking…uh…what’s the matter?
TEA KETTLE: You’ve never been a tea kettle, have you?
Not that I can recall.
TEA KETTLE Then you won’t understand. I can’t handle this job anymore! Can’t take the stress! Day after day! Week after week! Year after year!
Why is it so horrible?
TEA KETTLE: It’s like this. Every morning, I sit peacefully on the stove top, minding my own business. Then suddenly, someone shoves water down my spout. Then my bottom warms up. It gets hotter…AND HOTTER…AND HOTTER!!!!
I never thought about it that way.
TEA KETTLE: You haven’t heard the worst of it. Then! The water inside me starts to get warm…and HOT…and HOTTER! It’s so hot it bubbles and churns like crazy! The stress is unbearable! I can feel my blood pressure going up!
Wow. Believe it or not, it sounds like a lot of jobs I’ve had as a writer working in an office.
TEA KETTLE: You’re kidding.
Nope. There are times I’ll sit quietly at my desk, and then someone comes over and gives me a writing assignment. I say, “Okay. When do I need to submit this?” And the answer is always, “Now, NOW, and RIGHT NOW!!!!!”
TEA KETTLE: So what happens?
So, I rush around like a lunatic to get the writing assignment done! I feel my heart beating faster! I feel my blood pressure going up! I raid the candy machine and eat all the Kit Kats!
TEA KETTLE: Let me guess what happens next. You finish…and everything calms down, right?
Right. And usually the person who asked me to do the assignment doesn’t look at it for three weeks.
TEA KETTLE: The same thing happens to me after I boil. My whistle blows. Someone rushes in and turns off the heat underneath me and pours out the hot water. I’m at peace again. Until another person wants tea! It could be anywhere! Any time! Then the heat shoots up under me again! I get hotter, and HOTTLER AND HOTTER! Every time I hear someone say, “Would anyone like tea?” My heart sinks.
I hear ya. And you know, I used to think these high pressure jobs were exhilarating. I used to feel excited when I had to exert super high energy to get a job done right in that moment.
TEA KETTLE: Me too! I felt so alive! Like I was part of a team! In the kitchen!
But these days, I don’t see it that way. All that pressure is ridiculous and meaningless. Who needs it? Let someone else run around like a chicken without a head.
TEA KETTLE: You said it. That’s why I just quit working for the family I’ve been with for years. I don’t want to be under that kind of pressure at any given moment, all the time, anymore.
I get it.
TEA KETTLE: On the other hand, what else am I gonna do with my ridiculous life?
The tea kettle and I continued walking together and chatting until we passed a little girl in a park. She was having a picnic with her teddy bears. Each bear had a paper plate and tea cup in front of it. The little girl was feeding the bears make believe food. That gave the tea kettle an idea. If the bears were eating make believe food, why not wash it down with make believe tea? The tea kettle mustered up enough courage to pitch the idea to the little girl, and she loved it.
These days, the tea kettle pours make believe tea for the bears on all occasions. So…Maybe as we grow older, our bodies age. But the ideas that spring from inside us can always be new.