JN37: Lessons from Sparky the Llama

March 2, 2009

My friends,


Have you ever had one of those days where you come home so exhausted from work that you just want to leave your job and start raising llamas in the Andes?


Things have been crazy at the office. Being a nonprofit manager is no fun and games, no matter what people tell you. For example, you have to deal with the incessant whining of the people under you. “The budget for this project is not clear,” they say, “The goals are not feasible,” they say, “It’s been three months since our last paycheck,” they say.


Sheesh! With attitudes like that, who’s to blame me for only giving them one weekend off each month?


The Dragon has actually been quite pleasant to work with of late, focused on our fundraising dinner, which is coming up in three weeks and which scares the bejeezus out of me. I will tell you that there are few activities on earth more painful than planning a fundraising event. They really should reserve it as an interrogation technique, such as used on the TV show “24”: “Tell us where the target is, you filthy terrorist! You won’t talk?! Let’s see if you will change your mind after being on a committee to plan one fundraising dinner and auction for a nonprofit!”


When I come home at 9 after all these various committee meetings and staff one-on-ones, I think of all the llamas I would have. I’d name them all, and I’d whittle a flute and each day while tending to their grazing I’d play haunting songs that will echo softly on the mountains. Each day I’ll come home to my jolly wife who tends to the children and who makes llama-milk cheese and knits our clothing out of llama wool. I’ll probably develop a bond with a small llama named Sparky, whom we thought was too small and weak to survive. Little Sparky grows up to be spritely and full of personality. One day, I’ll get attacked by a panther while in the meadows, and little Sparky jumps in and saves my life, and ends up getting eaten.


Does that not sound so much more peaceful than writing grants and having meetings all day and explaining to staff why they don’t get dental care and should research do-it-yourself root canals on Google?


But, my friends, it is not for us to determine our fates, so I should stop complaining. Like the great and wise Gandalf once profoundly said, “A little late to trim the verge, don’t you think?” I have no idea what he meant, but I’m sure it’s profound and is perfectly relevant to the point that I’m trying to make, which is that Sparky was a brave little llama, and if we should learn anything from his selfless sacrifice, it is to always have hope and faith in everyone and everything, even in the most daunting of circumstances, and to never complain about our lives, because at least we have not been devoured by a panther.


Now, if anyone needs me, I’ll be at my desk writing some letters to ask for donations of raffle items and learning how to whittle a flute.



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