The Three Stooges Syndrome: a life lesson I learned from The Simpsons

December 11, 2011 § 7 Comments

Over the years, I’ve been known to say that everything worth knowing in life can be learned from The Simpsons. That’s a lie. It’s also a pretty good reason to question why you’re reading the blog of someone who gives such terrible advice. That said, The Simpsons have taught me a thing or two over the years (don’t judge me).

In season 11, in the episode “The Mansion Family” (thank you Google, yet another reason you are my Obi wan Kenobi) Mr. Burns learns that he has every disease known to man (as well as all the unknown ones too). The only reason he hasn’t died yet is because in something called “The Three Stooges Syndrome,” which amounts to all of the diseases trying to kill him at once, but by doing so are preventing all the other diseases trying just as eagerly to get through the proverbial door.

In the years since seeing this episode I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve referred to The Three Stooges Syndrome (though never yet in a medical context… hmm). The way it tends to shape up in my own life, is that I’m trying to write, prewrite, edit, etc. but the creative juices just won’t flow. I can’t stop thinking about how I have to call this person, or clean this, or buy that, or reply to that email, or write that blog.  A dozen things are clamoring about in my head, yet I can’t bring myself to do any of them, so I sit on the couch doing nothing or surf the internet.  In those moments I remember the Simpsons and The Three Stooges Syndrome, and tackle the smallest of the tasks at hand. Once that’s done, I move on to something bigger and so on and so forth. My creative juices flow much more willingly when a dozen other tasks aren’t haunting my subconscious (which is why I also choose to write first thing in the morning, before other thoughts and responsibilities start siphoning off my brain power).

And to think my mom used to forbid me from watching The Simpsons. Just think of all the life lessons I might have learned?


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