I was poking around on the Internet the other day when I happened upon this remarkable little factoid: if you put a baby piranha in a small fishbowl, he won’t get much bigger than a couple of inches long. On the other hand, if you drop that same baby fish into the vast Amazon River, he’ll grow to be almost two feet in length. In other words, a piranha expands to fill the space allotted to him. It was so weird when I read that. I mean, it’s like they were talking about me!
I’m not speaking in a literal sense, of course. If that were the case, and I knew I’d only grow as big as my surroundings, believe me I’d have moved into one of those Japanese capsule hotels years ago. No, I’m referring here to my use of time, or more accurately, my misuse of it. In essence, the amount of time it takes me to complete a task has nothing to do with how long it actually takes me to complete that task; it has everything to do with how long I’ve been given to complete it. (Don’t bother to go back and reread that sentence. It won’t make any more sense the second time around.)
Let me see if I can explain it this way. I attend a small ladies Bible study every Monday morning (by that I mean our group is small. The ladies themselves are basically average.) Anyway, the study includes five days’ worth of questions to be done at home during the week. The idea is to spend time in God’s Word on a daily basis – a great plan, in theory. But suppose the girls in my group decide to skip a week because of a school holiday or something. Hot dog. This means I now have not one, but two whole weeks to get my home study questions done. So… Do I finish them on schedule the first week and enjoy the second week off? Nope. Do I stretch it out and do half my questions the first week and half the second? Guess again. Do I do them all during the second "bonus” week? I wish. The truth is (and here comes the piranha part) it wouldn’t matter if we’d taken a whole month off; you’d still find me up late on Sunday night – the night before we resume, mind you – hastily finishing up those questions.
Same goes for writing. If I have to whip out a column by this afternoon, you can bet it’ll get done by then. But give me fifteen days to write that same column, and fifteen days is how long it will take!
Ditto housework. If a friend calls to say she’s stopping by in half an hour to drop off my Pyrex dish, I can literally clean up this dump in – you guessed it – half an hour. On the other hand, if nobody is going to see my mess except my husband (who is positively saintly in his patience with this sort of thing) it’s amazing – no, make that disgusting – how long I can live in my own squalor. Days. Weeks. Months, even!
So given this maddening tendency of mine, you can see why I’m so distraught over the realization that my 40th high school reunion is coming up in a year and a half. Ideally I’d like to lose about fifteen pounds before the big event, which, roughly calculated, is like one pound per month. One measly stinkin’ little pound. Less than that, really. Piece of cake, right?
If you said yes, then obviously you’ve forgotten everything we’ve just learned about the piranha who – say it with me – expands to fill the space allotted to him. I’ve got a full eighteen months to lose fifteen pounds. Ergo, it will take me the entire eighteen months, and not one second less, to do it.
The question is how to go about it. I suppose I could adopt a sensible, healthy diet and exercise plan (insert snorting laughter here.) Or I could go on some crazy-insane crash diet at the last minute – but honestly, I don’t have the willpower to pull that off. No, I’m afraid there is only one way for me to shed all that weight in time for my reunion, and here it is: I’m just going to have to spend the next year and a half in a Japanese capsule hotel.
And if that doesn’t work…well, I guess I can always get a school of flesh-eating piranhas to nibble away my excess fat.