6. Man undertakes nothing in which he is not more or less
puzzled; and must try numberless experiments before he can bring
his undertakings to anything like perfection; even the simplest
operations of domestic life are not well performed without some
experience; and the term of man's life is half wasted before he has
done with his mistakes and begins to profit by his lessons.
Here’s the riddle:
How do you get down from an elephant?
I don’t know. How do you get down from an elephant?
You don’t get down from an elephant. You get down from a duck.
Once, many years ago, in a supermarket in Fayetteville, Arkansas, I was standing behind a woman at the checkout counter who was apparently friends with the checker and she said: “ I got a good one for you: how do you get off an elephant?”
(I remembered from my youth in northern Ohio the sensation I felt as the car would swerve trying to go up the icy hills, as I listened, anticipating, how this was going to go terribly wrong. . .)
“ I don’t know. How do you get off an elephant?”
(Here it comes, wait for it. . . )
“You don’t get off an elephant. You get off a duck.”
(I peeked to see if there was any serious injury. . . )
All of a sudden, on cue, both women erupted in laughter.
Sometimes I feel like I’m a visitor to your planet. That was one of those times.