Finding Your Higher Banana

higher banana Last week, you found nil here. Nada. I’ve had my head so far up my ass that I can read the serial numbers on my breast implants. Two book projects, a business to run, a foster dog with a penchant for eating my eyeglasses and dragging my underwear into the yard and leaving them there along with assorted other personal drama – yeah. While it might sound like I’m complaining, I’m not. Life is busy, but along with the bullshit comes the opportunity to travel a good 1000 miles to see one of your best friends in an incomprehensible league of happiness.

Friday morning, I blew town just as the hookers were rolling into their non-profitable beds and landed in Ontario, California. Destination? Lake Arrowhead for my friend Wendie’s wedding reception.

I’ve known Wendie since 2001 and she’s not only become one of my best friends, but she’s the co-author on one of my book projects. Since then, she’s seen me through a divorce, an engagement (and the end of said engagement) along with countless twists and turn that have brought me from San Diego to Los Angeles to Las Vegas to the place I now consider home: Denver, Colorado. And I her, yet the whole while, she’s had her adventures in Los Angeles. Regardless of geography, she’s always been there. I’ve always been there. And a year ago, she married Josh Miller. Six months ago, she gave birth to Finn. And this weekend, I got to see what I’m going to call a miracle. I mean, aside from the fact I didn’t drop the f-bomb when I stood up to toast her. I did say “ass,” however.

There are times in my life that I’ve had the rude awakening of realizing that it’s not all about me. Shocker, I know, but maybe some of you have experienced the same capsizing of your emotional boat.

The moment you realized that you had friends when you needed them – and it wasn’t to go grab a drink.

When you realized the time had come that your parents needed you (and not the other way around).

When the last bit of cash in your wallet that you were destined to use at the valet goes to a woman on the corner holding a cardboard sign in one hand and her daughter’s hand in the other.

The day you realized that someone you love could die.

This weekend, I saw one of my best friends ever dance around with her husband and their young son. More beautiful than any night we painted the town as single gals, laughing louder than during any dirty board game played in her living room and smiling so wide that I vowed to have my teeth whitened whether they needed it or not. It was a day that could care less what I wore, if my shoes matched or if I’d shown up with a date (which I didn’t). Because it wasn’t about me. And it was one of the loveliest reminders of that fact I’ve ever received.

(Beautiful story, Erika – but WTFBBQ is up with the “higher banana” thing?)

You are so fucking impatient.

During her own toast, Wendie offered up a phrase to describe how she felt about her husband, Josh. It was a phrase from her childhood, one her brother would use to explain something unbelievable or unattainable – the highest possible aspiration. He referred to it as the Higher Banana. And in Josh, Wendie said she found her Higher Banana. Among the smattering of laughter, I doubt there was a dry eye in the house (mine included) among Wendie’s friends, for those of us who know her – the consummate goofball – there was nothing more fitting than to hear her refer to her husband as a banana in some form or fashion. And it got me thinking about finding my Higher Banana.

So What’s YOUR Higher Banana?

Shit seems to roll downhill in life and when one thing hurts, another finds that’s the ideal time to kick you in the shins or otherwise beat you to a pulp when you’re down. But those moments that come along, when everything comes together and we’re pulled out of our crappy little reverie – those are the ones we live for. So what are you reaching for? For that matter, I spent a fair amount of time on Saturday night and Sunday contemplating the prospect of my Higher Banana.

You and I are the only ones who can know if we’re keeping company with mediocrity. And we’re also the only one who know the difference between trying in earnest and pulling a classic square-peg-round-hole maneuver. Finding it – it comes down to a matter of respect for yourself. Your never going to achieve what you visualize in the trees overhead if you beat yourself down and don’t give yourself room to breathe. We have to give ourselves credit. Care for ourselves and learn to care for others. Because there’s nothing in this world worth having that doesn’t take others to help achieve. Nothing.

This weekend reinforced that everything I’ve held out for in my personal life is possible and not the saturated technicolor fairy tales laid out by some Disney flick available on DVD and BluRay. It reminded me that everything I lose sleep for in my business life isn’t for naught and that it’s okay to demand more of others so long as I’m demanding just as much, if not more, from myself. It’s my job to help my clients find it, to help my friends and family understand that they’re worth it and to show people who might never contemplate it that there’s something that’s possible and it rests in the most unlikely places and people.

The Higher Banana isn’t a thing. You can’t buy it and roll around with your friends in it topless at Mardi Gras (wasn’t me). You can’t play a game of catch with it at the park with your buddies. But what we can do is reach for it. We can learn to recognize it in the people who surround us every day. We can also know when to call bullshit on ourselves when we’re doing absolutely nothing to work towards it. That’s the hardest, I think, as sitting still is a shitload easier than generating activity. And mindless activity is easier than putting the energy into getting something done. We seem to spend more time beating ourselves up about things that have passed us by our slipped through our fingers – the Shoulda, Coulda and Wouldas (and if you’ve been around here long enough, you know those are the Oulda Sisters and I hate the bitches). What if we reached higher with all the energy we spend lamenting? Who knows – your Higher Banana might be lurking, just waiting for you to grab hold.

Maybe it’s business partners or a mate. A friend or your mom. Maybe it’s a guy you don’t know too well who knocked up one of your best friends and in the process, fell head over heels in love with her and vice versa and you can’t think of any way to thank him for the happiness he’s brought into her life other than taking one extra stroll through their garden for stealth dog poo before you leave the next time. But I digress…

Whatever your Higher Banana is, it’ll make you cry a little. And that’s because it has the power to break your heart – business, love, life in general. It’s a silly shape for something we should have aspirations for and what do I care if you decide to call it your Higher Artichoke or Higher Hippogriff? It doesn’t matter a damn to me. What matters is that we bust our asses to reach it (because it’s higher than we might think), we open our hearts to everything that will bring it closer (because it’s never going to be a yellow brick road) and when we find it, we refuse to become complacent. We keep striving to fulfill our promise to the Higher Banana:

Raise a round of capital? Thank your employees and keep thanking them.

Score a new client? Thank the referral source personally – skip the email.

Meet the mate of your dreams? Allow yourself to be openly wrong, quietly right and make it not about YOU, but about an US … something I wish I’d known many years ago.

You can build any Part A/Part B sentence you like – but in the end, I guess the best we can each do is find the best way to complete the sentence. Remember that there are really so few things in life that are about a “me” rather than an “us” or “we.” And if we remember that little thing alone, we’re one rung higher on the ladder leading to the banana.


So, the wedding reception had THE best centerpieces, all hand crafted by Josh’s dad. I was lucky enough to win/bargain/cajole/guilt the actual winner into giving me this one. “Mythical Creatures Meets Country Living.” It just doesn’t get any better than this. The fact that Wendie married a man whose father came up with eight of these oddities is all the proof I need that she married the right guy. This t-shirt also reinforced my feelings. And yes, you’ll be seeing this at my wedding one day.

the best wedding centerpiece ever

15 replies
  1. Jason Ramsey
    Jason Ramsey says:

    Great as always Erika. Wouldn’t it be nice to learn some of these lessons before we made our mistakes? Well maybe something like this post will help someone do that. I’ll make sure all the people I care about see it for sure 😉 Thank you for the inspiration this morning.

  2. Morgan Barnhart
    Morgan Barnhart says:

    I have a feeling I’m going to be recognizing many ‘higher bananas’ here in the next couple weeks. I’m trying to get work done but I’m already tearing up a little bit. 

    Thanks for this!

  3. XS
    XS says:

    Love it! been working on my higher banana for a while now.. but your way of putting it made me giggle and gave me a much needed boost!  So aiming for the higher banana is going to be in my head now – when it starts getting a bit too much.. 🙂  Thanks.

  4. Killian
    Killian says:

    I like this one a lot.

    I think that the biggest mistake made by people is that they are afraid to trust themselves.  In seeking the Higher Banana, they are petrified that they’ll never find it, or that they won’t be good enough when they do find it.  So instead, they grab the First Banana, and settle into complacency. 

    Seeing the difference between the First Banana and the Higher Banana is something that requires patience, faith, perspective, and above all, the ability to be brutally honest with yourself.

    I’m hoping some day to find my own Higher Banana…I think it might be lurking somewhere close, though, and I seem to be surrounded by rabid monkeys lately.

  5. Annie Sisk
    Annie Sisk says:

    I confess I’ve had to read this one a few times. I wasn’t quite sure what the takeaway was here — so I had to work for it. Wait, wait, before you get all “Damn, bitch, get off my blog” — I LIKE that. I love it when I have to work for it. So what I *think* you’re saying here is — there’s a higher purpose, a higher calling, something that’s deeper and broader and scarier and totally not-put-down-able and it’s our job to go find it and grab that sucker and hold on tight despite the ovary-pinching fear. (Or testicle-pinching – as anatomy requires.) And it’s almost always not a truly “solo” endeavor and that’s a GOOD thing, and … OK, I think that’s it. (?)

    Also: I call my daughter “monkey” because getting the bananas in the grocery store is her job. That has nothing to do with this. But it did pop into my brain … also: mmmm, bananas …

  6. Carol Hess
    Carol Hess says:

    Okay, I’ll bite.  What does the FILF stand for on the t-shirt?  It’s driving me NUTS.  I came up with Fucking in Love Finally or Fucking in Love Forever or Finally in Love Forever. . . . . am I even close?

    Yeah, that Higher Banana always involves tears, doesn it?  Makes it kinda easy to know when we’re on the right track.  (Don’t slip on the lesser banana peels.) 

  7. John Trader
    John Trader says:

    Congrats Erika.  You managed to write two blog posts within the span of a month (referring to August 2 “banana hammock” post) using the word banana that have polar opposite meanings.  Soon, we may see you walking around in public looking like this:   

    My brain cheek has been all pretty and healed lately wondering how and what you would write to slap it back into a raw, non-snooze, get with it and live life state that I enjoy from your writing.  I can say with confidence that you nailed it with this post.  I am scared that I haven’t found that higher banana yet because I loathe complacency as Killian put it.  At least now I can put it into some sort of perspective.  Thank you.

  8. Cherry
    Cherry says:

    hey sweetbananacakes,

    Wonderful, just wonderful to have a friendship like Wendie and you have. Happy for you, and for Wendie.

    My higher banana has been calling me & I was scared. Working thru that now. Another good reminder for me to keep on going.  Cherry


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