Saturday, September 11, 2021

Walking On Eggshells (MY Eng #25)

This is part of a running series about English idioms - less about language, more about life itself. Previously, we covered 'missing the woods for the trees', 'the elephant in the room', 'practising what you preach', blowing hot and cold', 'no smoke without fire', 'one swallow does not make a summer', 'apples and oranges', 'cut to the chase', 'leave no stone unturned', 'that's the way the cookie crumbles', 'can't have your cake and eat it too', 'old is gold', 'putting the cart before the horse', 'mountain out of a molehill', 'pot calling the kettle black', 'bite the bullet', 'go the extra mile', 'silence is golden', 'the devil is in the details', 'sink or swim', 'once bitten twice shy', 'don't count your chickens before they hatch', 'don't put all your eggs into one basket' and 'chicken and egg'.

Last time round, I said that I'll stop picking on chickens and move on to other flora and fauna.

I lied.

Sorry, but I just couldn't resist. It's not that I'm running out of idioms (trust me, I still have a long laundry list). This one is lesser-known, yet equally useful in everyday lingo. Public education prevails over my private conscience. And anyway, I'm sure my dear readers are a sporting and unforgiving bunch, right? Right?

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But the choice of idiom here has context. By going back on my word, I put my credibility under the spotlight. Who doesn't find themselves saying one thing, but having to do the opposite? Yes, some of us love to live dangerously. We love walking on eggshells...

We can't avoid stepping on minefields (figuratively, speaking), despite the warning signs. Sometimes, traversing on dangerous territory, dancing on thin ice (another idiom!), is all part of our line of work.

Or for some of us, it's just a matter of personal lifesttyle choice. As a Bond villian and femme fatale puts it elegantly: "There's no point in living, if you don't feel alive". We hang ourselves out to dry in the open. Actively vocal and visible on social media. The more that we expose ourselves in public, the more risk attracting intense scrutiny and judgment.

Take this blog of mine. I've run into a trouble or two for the provocative stuff that I post. Some people just takes things too literally. As an infamous Gotham villain once rhetorically asks: "Why so serious?" I've come to peace with the fact that people nowadays are easily triggered and offended. I can't be over-thinking and over-censoring my words, for the sake of random strangers halfway across the world. To paraphrase: "There's no point in writing, if I can't speak my mind."

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I can go on and on. But enough of ranting. My feet is feeling ticklish already. An egg or two is about to crack open, so I best be moving on...

But you get the idea. Eggshells are everywhere. It's hard to avoid if we want to move forward. If we're afraid of stepping on ants, we'll be forever frozen where we stand, paralysed in terror. And as the creed of shadowy cult of a much-awaited movie this year intones: "Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me."

Those who fear eggshells are those who fear to live. Indeed, there's no point in living, if we can't brave through our fears.

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