I understand and respect emotional intelligence. Usually (not always, but usually) I can imitate it. I know when to pull back and when to lean in. I know what to say to get the desired outcome and what to say to fan the flames. I can do this because I’m a spectator, the sidekick character, the hype man. I can do this if I’ve been witness to a successful transaction of desired outcomes/desired result.

I cannot if I’ve never been witness to the behaviors, dialogue, mannerisms, or characterizations that yield the reward. Worse than that, astute observers or those who know me well can acknowledge it for what it is– a performance.

At the heart of it, there’s a coldness in me that I can access when it suits me. I use it during unsettling interpersonal encounters and bad staff meetings. I’m good at rejection– being rejected and doing the rejecting. I’m good at turning people away. I’m good at firing. I’m good at ending arguments and ending relationships.

I can detach and disengage almost instantaneously, cold turkey. I don’t need to look back, romanticize, or reminisce (save for a poem or two). There is black, and there is white.

But my struggle lives in the gray (sometimes blue to denote sadness).

“If you give a mouse a cookie, he’s going to ask for a glass of milk. When you give him the milk, he’ll probably ask you for a straw. When he’s finished, he’ll ask for a napkin.”

If You Give a Moose a Muffin is about welfare and dependency, social mobility, self-reliance, and self-actualization. It was created and published during the Reagan era when concerns over welfare were rising, when its challenges were heavily debated and scrutinized.

Is it satire or a cautionary tale?

Do we set ourselves up for failure when moose get muffins? Do we expose ourselves to liability?

Sometimes its hard to be childish and simultaneously capable of mirroring emotional maturity and diplomacy. The struggle is real.

As a service professional and as someone committed to education I think I know the answers to the question. As an ineffective activist (more on that later), I have a different set of questions.

Week 15 Successes: 
Self-reliance. Self-control.

Week 15 Failures: 
1. Machismo is alive and well. I’m a victim and long-time sufferer. I try to believe that my intercultural training, imitation emotional intelligence, and well-positioned coldness will buffer me and let me persevere. (Over and over again, I am wrong.)

2. Nepotism is the straw that breaks my back.

3. I don’t do well when I encounter people who believe moose shouldn’t get muffins. Anger is only useful if harvested wisely and strategically. Rage is ineffective without reform.

There is enough.


3 thoughts on “Day 4, Week 15: If You Give a Moose a Muffin

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