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Chasing the Eternal Carrot

Updated: Jan 10, 2022

A few days ago I re-watched an episode of the TV show Frasier. For those unfamiliar with the show, radio psychiatrist Frasier Crane and his brother Niles are fussy, snobby, often rude, and absolutely obsessed with climbing the social ladder. Remarkably though, both characters are very likable and very funny across the shows 10 series run!

In the particular episode I re-watched called “Door Jam”, the brothers face the consequences of chasing an uncatchable reward (the "eternal carrot"). A letter accidentally arrives at Frasier’s apartment, addressed to his rival Cam Winston who rents the apartment upstairs. Frasier’s curiosity gets the better of him and he opens the letter to find an invitation to a place called “La Porte D’Argent” (the door of silver). This intrigues them further as neither of them know what this place is. Afterall, they consider themselves Seattle’s elite, so why have they never heard of it?

After taking a trip to La Porte D’Argent, they discover that it is a day spa, however they are not allowed in because neither brother is not on the list. After some subterfuge, the brothers access the spa and are basking in the delights - clearly thrilled with the services on offer.

It is then they notice the gold door. The problem, of course, is that it is locked and they are not able to go through because “they are not on the list”. Suddenly the spa is no longer “nirvana” and feels inferior to whatever lies behind the gold door - because someone else they know has been given access to it.

They finally gain access only to find a platinum door that is also locked. After much work, they forcibly open the platinum door and walk though….

Frasier and Niles find themselves on the outside of the spa, next to the rubbish bins, just as the door closes behind them. They try desperately to yell for someone to let them back into the spa, but nobody hears them.

Whilst the story of this episode is exaggerated (as sitcoms often do) the message is clear. In their quest to chase that eternal carrot and to have the next big thing, Frasier and Niles fail to recognise what is driving them. When they see a Senator coming out of the gold door, they are convinced that they too deserve the next level, even though what they currently have should be more than enough. They are experiencing envy, a desire for what someone else has. When they see the platinum door, desire turns to drive because they are told to “remain the in relaxation grotto”. It is their competitiveness and greed that are the forces behind their desire to have more - even though what they have is more than enough. There is no indication that whatever is behind that door holds anything better than they already have, they are simply told they cannot go there.

Human greed can be camouflaged or hidden in day to day lives, so much so that we can often fail to recognise it in ourselves and others, just like poor Frasier and Niles. We can strive towards chasing that eternal carrot without stopping to realise and appreciate when what we have is enough.

Are there areas in your life that you are chasing that eternal carrot? Is there a part of your life that you are looking for something and you are so obsessed by the thing that is coming, you are struggling to see what you already have? Maybe there is a good reason you are doing that, but maybe the reason(s) doesn't stand up to scrutiny. Spend some time to evaluate where your effort is going, and what the 'next big thing' is. Try to see if this thing will bring you a level of satisfaction proportional to the effort you are putting in, or if the effort is causing stress and taking away the enjoyment you could be having.

With the constant marketing of the next car model, fashion magazine, or the newest phone or technology, it can be tricky to keep hold of our own goals and ideals. In fact, companies are spending millions of dollars to blur the lines between what you want and what they want you to want.

Perhaps you find yourself struggling to know who you want to be, or to hold on to your goals in the face of a media, family or society that wants you to strive in a different direction. It's ok to feel that way - and you don't have to fight back alone. Counselling can be a great opportunity to explore, amplify and underline your values and beliefs. Sunflower Counselling Perth is a judgement-free, supportive space that works with you to help you understand and hold on to the goals that matter to you. Feel free to e-mail to arrange a free 'get acquainted' session and find out how it can best help you.

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