Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Real Story of the Black Sheep: More vs Enough

The Real Story of the Black Sheep: More vs Enough

Fair is ‘fowl’
And ‘fowl’ is fair
MacBeth Max (My graduated Standard Poodle – who got 5 birds on the fly)

The typical story and definition of ‘black sheep’ (or Schwartz sheep for those of Yiddish or German speaking persuasion) is that of the outcast. The black sheep is the one who causes shame or embarrassment because of his or her DEVIATION from the accepted standards/norms/premises/assumptions (questioned or unquestioned) of the prevailing group or culture.

This Black/Schwartz Sheep metaphor originated with the fact that ‘black sheep’ were less valuable than white ones because it was more difficult to dye their wool different colors. In addition, the color black in the 16th century was considered a mark of the devil.
Between the colloquial connotation of ‘odd/outcast’ and the former ‘devil’ suggestion – the phrase black sheep has taken on the implication and association of unwanted outcast.

Now, the prevailing premise of our culture is MORE.
Proof: just for one day watch and count the advertisements on TV, radio, the web, and newspapers that are about MORE and LACK. The ads are about dissatisfaction (not enough) and therefore you either lack or need more. Then count the amount of ads that are about enough. (There aren’t any – enough doesn’t sell.)

Enough is a ‘black sheep’ in our culture. The Latin for enough is satis which forms the basis of the word satisfactory is ‘just’ a C on a report card – merely adequate. Enough and adequate are settling like you did with your second spouse fearing dying alone. Enough is mediocre – blah – no gusto – resigned to bronze rather than going for the gold.
Enough is temporarily elevated when the market bombardiers in 1987 and 2008 only to fade as a distant regrettable memory (I should have bought at the bottom). Spontaneous regression to the ‘mean’ (More) returns with its external comparisons (how did I do relative to the Dow, S&P etc.?) instead of comparisons to definitive personal financial life goals irrespective of the Dow, S&P etc. And the ‘Hog’ of more, better, now recycles into less, worse, later without the Harley.

Returning to the metaphor of the black/Schwartz sheep story, let’s reframe it (changing the filter not revisionism).

The farmer took excellent care of his sheep – they thought - because ‘he loves us.’ Rather, with the sheep’s wool gathering days coming to conclusion, and lamb chops providing more net per pound to the farmer, he was fattening them up – giving the ‘devoted sheep’ More. The black, Schwartz sheep figured out the farmer’s game on In Your Facebook’s Shear Knowledge Group Bulletin Board. And despite the taunts (nah, nah, nah, nah, nah hey hey, goodbye), the black sheep, the odd- the eccentric – the embarrassment, escaped.
More, more, more of the farmer’s feed – would only become more, more, more lamb chops at the expense of the black sheep’s life. And the black sheep didn’t want to sacrifice what he needed for what he didn’t need as more, better, now – would become less, later, worse (him being a ‘Lamb Chop’ without Shari Lewis’ hand up (well that’s another story). (1) At worse, he would get a ‘Charlie Horse’ on the run.

While the sheep got lamb chopped, the black sheep, escaped (on the lamb) exhibiting ‘his chops.’ (2)
Thus things are not always what they seem, the black sheep (the eccentric, the odd, the embarrassment) who had ‘enough’ flourishes while the mutton head MOREons get sheared, seared and smoked to imperfection.

(1). – Gives new meaning to being be(hind)holden. Shari Lewis, hottie hand puppeteer – at least to a then 8 year old, of Lamb Chop & Charlie Horse.
(2). – Talent

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