As a young child I remember so enjoying singing the first lines of a delightful song:
"Yes! We have no bananas.
We have no bananas today!"
The song tells the story of a fruit store run by a Greek gentleman. Whenever he was asked about some item he did not have in the store such as bananas, for example, he always began by saying, “Yes, We have no bananas.”
The lyrics to this song are light-hearted and paint a vivid picture of the fruit market and its owner. I’ve included them at the end of this blog post so you can enjoy them.
However, a very important reason for me to remember the No Bananas song is serious. I cannot even recall how I came upon it…and it’s possible I dreamed it up when I was trying to help someone solve a problem…but I know that I have used this story in my life many times to help me get perspective and have shared it with others so much that it’s become an integral part of my philosophy.
And so it is my pleasure to share it with you now.
Let’s pretend you go into a fruit store and ask the clerk for some bananas. The clerk replies that he is sorry that he has no bananas, but he does have apples, pears, strawberries, oranges and kiwis.
You listen to his list of available luscious fruits and answer, “That’s great. But I want bananas.” He replies, “But we have NO bananas.” You answer, “I don’t care that you don’t have bananas."
"I came into this store to buy some bananas and that’s what I want."
So you ask what is the point of this story…and it’s this:
Often in life we identify something we want from someone (not a physical thing but rather a satisfying or comforting emotion).
It’s something we would really like to have in our life so we approach the person and either ask for it or drop hints…but…we never get the “bananas” because the person doesn’t have them.
And, because our desire and need feel so great to us (no doubt because of empty spaces from other parts of our life), we lose sight of the fact that this person does not have what we want…perhaps because he is on his own journey and has not cultivated it yet.
But our need for the “bananas” is so great that we have blinders on and cannot see that there are no bananas in that store. Thus, we feel disappointed and alone and abandoned.
The emotional need we have has blinded us to the bigger picture of what stock items (read many other luscious fruits) ARE possibly available and we stay stuck in our banana obsession.
Persistently looking for something that we know (on some level) is not there seems counterproductive and exhausting...albeit a very human reaction when we are in emotional need.
Have you ever searched for bananas at a store that doesn’t have them but insisted that bananas are what you want and must have?
And have you ever been so upset and distressed when you couldn’t find the bananas that you missed all of the other possibly wonderful offerings that ARE available at that store?
Here’s to opening our shopping baskets (and hearts) to welcome in all of the delights that HAVE BEEN cultivated and are waiting for us to partake of their pleasures!
Yes! We Have No Bananas!
Folk Song written By: Frank Silver and Irving Cohn
There's a fruit store on our street
It's run by a Greek.
And he keeps good things to eat
But you should hear him speak!
When you ask him anything, he never answers "no".
He just "yes"es you to death,
And as he takes your dough, he tells you...
"Yes! We have no bananas
We have no bananas today!!
We have string beans and onions, cabBAges and scallions
And all kinds of fruit and say
We have an old fashioned toMAHto
A Long Island poTAHto, but
Yes! We have no bananas
We have no bananas today!"
Business got so good for him that he wrote home today,
"Send me Pete and Nick and Jim; I need help right away."
When he got them in the store, there was fun, you bet.
Someone asked for "sparrow grass"
and then the whole quartet
"Yes, we have no bananas
We have-a no bananas today.
Just try those coconuts
Those wall-nuts and doughnuts
There ain't many nuts like they.
We'll sell you two kinds of red herring,
Dark brown, and ball-bearing.
But yes, we have no bananas
We have no bananas today."