The 30,000 foot view of the 800 pound gorilla
Over the years I have amassed quite a collections of inspirational life quotes, assorted pearls of wisdom, and research material on the origins of many popular idioms. I am fascinated by various words and phrases that get used in everyday language that people use and have no clue as to their origin. Many axioms and idioms are pretty simple to explain. They are handed down through the generations and used when they fit the occasion at hand. Idioms are not always inspirational but they can be interesting.
What's the significance of the 30,000 foot view of the 800 pound gorilla?
The view from 30,000 feet is meant to describe looking at something from a very high level to see the total picture without a lot of details. Because people don't understand the origin of the phrase you will see many variations of the phrase such as the 10,000 foot view, or 20,000 foot view. The significance of the 30,000 foot view is that 30,000 fee is the average cruising altitude of a commercial jet.
Much like the view from 30,000 feet the size of 800-pound gorilla often varies because people do not understand the origin of the phrase. There is a classic joke that asks the question, "Where does an 800 pound gorilla sit?" The answer is anywhere it wants to. The phrase is used to describe large corporations that can do whatever they want because they are so large.
The origins of idioms and ideas
Every time a new expression comes out people think it is the best thing since sliced bread and jump on the bandwagon. Then there are those who are late to the party, and I have to tell them that Elvis has left the building.
Of course the best thing since sliced bread is something so cool we love it. Who likes unsliced bread? But when you jump on the bandwagon you are telling folks you are supporting their cause. Back in the days of horse and buggy the bandwagon carried the musicians at the head of a parade, and everyone followed. As far as the phrase used in general terms to mean jumping into anything that was popular and going along for the ride, many point to a documented usage of the phrase by Teddy Roosevelt in 1899.
When you are late to the party you miss out on a lot of cool stuff, but once Elvis has left the building, the party is pretty much over. The phrase "Elvis has left the building" was used by public address announcers at the conclusion of Elvis Presley concerts in order to disperse the crowd. Elvis is gone, there is nothing left for you to see, so you can go home now. The line "Elvis has left the building" has become a catchphrase in modern culture used at the end of any event to signify that there is nothing left for you to see, so you can go home now.
A cool Star Trek example
From the movie Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, 1986, an exchange between Captain James T. Kirk and Mr. Spock:
Kirk: If we play our cards right, we may be able to find out when those whales are being released.
Spock: How will playing cards help?
Stop back to this page as I will be adding some additional items and links to others.
Next up, a very commonly used phrase, based on a very bizarre event, drinking the Kool-Aid.
The Tao of Questy is about love and laughter and being human. It's about sharing ideas and being a little bit crazy in order to stay sane.