What keeps you small? Brené goes deep with guest Glennon Doyle, author of the New York Times #1 bestseller Untamed. In this snippet, listen to Doyle illuminate an excerpt from her book about a domesticated cheetah that became a metaphor for the lifelong training that keeps us afraid.
Publish Date: Feb 16, 2021
So, you know, as a writer, we have these ideas and these invisible no ings inside of us. And then every once in a while we're out in the world and we see something that perfectly illustrates. It's like something visible that perfectly illustrates the invisible thing inside of us that were trying to, you know, make really And this is, of course, why we're all obsessed with metaphors, right? So, like whenever I turned in a draft to my beloved editor Whitney, she's like, Okay, so it's good. We need to take out 490 of the metaphors and just stick with 20 right? So, like over my dead metaphorical body, That's right. That's right. So I'm at this zoo Safari Park with Abby and the girls and, um, they want to go to this event called the Cheetah Run. So we line up. It's a million and 40 degrees. We line up with all these sweaty families and this zookeeper comes out and she's holding the leash of ah lab, and I'm thinking, What the hell is going? That's not a cheetah. I mean, I'm not a scientist, but that is definitely not a cheetah. That is a Labrador, right? So the Safari Park woman says Hi, everybody. Welcome to the cheetah run! Do you all think this is the cheetah and all the kids say no? And she says you're right. This is not Tabatha the cheetah. This is many the lab. And we raised our cheetah Tabatha, alongside many the lab to tame her. And so, um, now Tabatha and many are best friends. And Tabatha does everything that many wants to dio. So we're gonna watch Mini, run the cheetah run first, and then Tabatha will go. So we watch this Labrador chase this jeep and this jeep it is It has a pink bunny attached to it. And so many wants to catch the pink bunny. The jeep takes off many chases after the jeep. Okay, then they bring out Tabatha and she is just majestic and stunning in her muscles or just rippling beneath her body. And we all count down 3 to 1. And that jeep takes off with a dirty pink bunny and Tabatha, this majestic, powerful creature chases things dirty pink bunny until they cross the finish line and crowd thinks Pink Bunny is just tied to the back of the Jeep. And so that's the That's the training, the training. They've been trained to want this pink bunny, right? So the race ends, the crowd cheers. The zookeeper throws this old steak of Tabatha and she lays down in the dirt and eats it. And I thought it just hit me. Bernet. If a cheetah can be tamed, so can a woman, right? If if a cheetah ah, wild, majestic animal like a cheetah can forget her wild so much so that she can be convinced to spend her entire one wild and precious life chasing a dirty pink bunny. That's what we do, right? Like that's why we are so underwhelmed and overwhelmed and exhausted. And we see we feel unseen and unknown because we spend our one wild and precious life chasing these ideals and expectations. And should that zookeepers train us to, um instead of just being who we are. So just that moment, you know, I knew the moment I saw that she to run. That is the metaphor that I wanted to use to describe the process that all of us men to. I was focused on women in this book, but go through in our social programming that were trained to chase certain things that will always leave us restless and tired and unfulfilled. I want to read a piece that I will never unsee are be able to forget this story. And I want to read something that you wrote in your cheetah chapter. So Tabatha eats the dirty steak off the ground. She gets back in her like area that spend off, and she said, There you right there in that field, away from many and the zookeepers minis the Labrador right. Tabitha's posture had changed. Her head was high and she was stalking the periphery, tracing the boundaries. The defense created back and forth, back and forth, stopping on Lee to stare somewhere beyond the fence. It was like she was remembering something. She looked regal and a little scary. Tish, your daughter whispered to you, Mommy, will she turn wild again? Glennon nods at Tisch and keeps an eye on Tabatha as she stopped. I wish I could answer her. You turned to your daughter and say, What's happening inside of you right now? You write. I knew what she would tell me. She'd say something's off about my life. I feel restless and frustrated. This is the cheetah talking. Something's off about my life. I feel restless. I feel frustrated. I have this hunch that everything was supposed to be more beautiful than this I imagine. Fence lis wide open savannas. I want to run in hunt and kill. I want to sleep under an ink black silent sky filled with stars. It's also really I can taste it. Then she looked back at the cage, the only home she's ever known. She looked at the smiling zookeepers, the board Spectators and her panting, bouncing, begging best friend, the lab. She'd sigh and say I should be grateful. I have a good enough life here. It's crazy toe long for what doesn't even exist. And Glennon you right? I would turn to her and say Tabatha, you're not crazy. You're a goddamn cheetah! Yeah, Yeah, Jesus. I mean, that's how I felt. Soon after this chapter, I talked about my marriage and, you know, I had a good enough marriage. I had a life that women are trained to be grateful for, and yet I was angry all the time. I was just this low level river of Rage and I felt this constant. Take this longing for a truer, deeper, realer love. And I had Bernet this constant whisper just relentlessly saying to me, But wasn't it supposed to be more beautiful than this? Right? And I hear that story from honest women about so many things about their family lives, about their jobs, about their nation, about their world. And yet we are part of this universal gaslighting that tells women over and over again. No, no, no, no, no. That's not riel. That longing inside of you, that imagination you have that it was all supposed to be more beautiful than this. That is not really stay in your place. Be grateful, right? And what I have come to believe is that what is inside of us is often more real than what is outside of us, right, that what is inside of us We were meant to, as you would say, unlock. We were meant to unleash to change the outside order of things. Right, that maybe imagination is not where we go to escape reality. But maybe imagination is where we go to discover the truest reality that we want. You to say that again. I say perhaps our imagination is not where we go to escape reality. Perhaps imagination is where we go to discover the truest reality that we were meant to bring into the world. I mean, one of my favorite definitions of faith is a belief in the unseen order of things. Right. So there is the visible order of things that we can see in front of us, which is, you know, the war and the fighting and the poverty and all the things that were taught the zoo, right that we're taught is just the way it is. But the unseen order is the thing inside of us that says no. It was supposed to be more beautiful than this. I can imagine wide open savannas. I can imagine sleeping under the sky. And then we think, No, no, no, that's just crazy. But just like Tabatha. No, no, no. That's the reality that we were meant. That's on on Earth as it is in heaven, right? That's the reality that we were meant to unleash. And especially for groups who have been marginalized by the zoo, right? Have been marginalized by zookeepers. If we only accept what we can see. We will never change what we can see right. That's why every visionary you know, Martin Luther King said. I have a dream. That's why Gloria Steinem said dreaming is a form of planning because if for us we do not go to our imaginations to plan, we will only get what we've always gotten. Here's what shakes me a little bit about everything you're saying my whole being especially.