I was recently introduced to a man who said his motto, “Not my circus, but my monkeys”. Although the expression has been in use for many years (it’s all over social media), it was something that I had never heard of. I loved it immediately. Beautiful imagery. And what a lovely meaning. It’s so symbolic yet so obvious.
It was at least obvious to me. To confirm my suspicions and to find out more, I searched the Internet.
My Circus is Not My Monkeys Meaning
Polish proverb “Nie Moj Cyrk, Nie Moje Malpy” translates to “Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys”, but it is challenging to find the English equivalent.
It can be translated as “I mind and my own business” (or “it’s none my business”), but in a more general sense, it’s used to highlight the fact that no one is responsible for judging someone else’s actions even if you don’t agree. As if you have no control over the mess created by someone else.
My Circus and My Monkeys Origin are not for me.
But I was wrong about this. I was mistaken about something. (Most sayings I don’t recognize are from these media. Since my nose is usually in printed media rather than motion picture media, it is not surprising that most of them are.
Au contraire. This Polish expression means Nie moj. Work. Nie more Malay.
Polish original has only one mischievous monkey and not a number of them. Other than that, the Polish saying has the same meanings and words as its English counterpart.
NOTE ADDED PRIL 8, 2021: An anonymous Polish speaker posted a comment (see unten) claiming that the Polish expression is plural. I stand corrected. Marta, I am grateful for your explanation. If you speak Polish, we would be delighted if your comment would include whether or not this expression has been used in Polish. I’d love to hear your thoughts about this!
My Circus, Not My Monkeys Origin
The research has revealed that the proverb is not an old one. This is remarkable because many of the most commonly used sayings have a lengthy historical background and a meaningful meaning. Henryk Markiewicz & Andrzej Romeowski in Skrzydlate slouchnik polskich i obcych 2005 note that this proverb was first used when Ireneusz Sekula referred to the governing of Hanna Suchocka.
Here are some examples to help you better understand this proverb.
Imagine that you’re having dinner with a Polish friend. He expounds on his brother’s low-income family behaviour, how his niece decided to drop out of school, how his nephew does not earn enough money, and how this doesn’t seem to worry his brother. He could finish his talk with a proverbial “Oh well, but it’s no circus for me and my monkeys” comment. Another option is to gossip about a colleague at your workplace, about how she is leading the team in a wrong way. It could be ended with “Oh well. It’s not mine circus”. Polish speakers would still recognize this. It is possible to end the gossip that another person has started by saying, “Oh, not mine circus, I don’t want it to be known about.”
Recently, you might also hear the no negation version of this proverb. It reads: “My circus and my monkeys”, meaning that you are responsible for specific actions or you must worry about it alone.
My Circus and Not My Monkeys Significance
Confirmed. Confirmed. The expression does NOT mean that one should be immoral or callous. It refers to boundaries.
Psychology Today notes that setting boundaries of “Not my circus, but my monkeys” can be helpful if you are suffering from depression.
It is possible to say “Not my circus, not my monkeys” when someone is in a difficult situation. However, this is not recommended unless the person is pretty much sure to love you anyway since you are, for instance, their teenage child.
Other Polish Proverbs
These sayings are great for learning if you’re interested in proverbs.
Kto pod kim dolki kopie, ten sam w nie wpada.
“Whoever digs under another person will be swept away by them.” It is a poor translation, but it means to stop wishing others wrong.
Gdzie czlowiek sie spieszy, tam diabel sie cieszy.
The devil is always happy when a man is hurrying”. This is to remind yourself to take it slow and to think carefully.
My Monkeys and Not My Circus are my Mottoes
I circled back (circling the three rings?) I handed the man with the personal motto, I told him my Internet explorations and asked him where he had heard the expression.
Then I found out that he was not familiar with the origin of the expression. I explained the matter to him, while narrowly avoiding a womansplaining situation. . . ).
He claimed that he heard this expression while working as a military liaison. It is a well-known saying in military circles. (Rings?)
Nie ma dymu bez ognia.
This is translated to English as “Where smoke is, fire is”.
Lepszy wrobel w garsci niz golab na dachu.
“It’s more fun to hold a sparrow than to have it on your roof,” said the old saying.
Nie wywoluj wilka z lasu.
This means “Don’t tempt fate”, and it can also be translated to: “Don’t tempt the Wolf from the Woods.”
Nabic Kogos w Butelke
This means to push someone into a glass, but it is to pull someone’s leg in English.
Kazdy kij ma dwa konce.
This can be translated as “every stick has two ends”, but it means “there are two sides to every tale.”
Zrobili mnie w Konia.
It sounds absurd to say, “I was made a horse”, but it is a way of saying that someone has made a fool of you.
Raz na wozie, raz pod wozem.
You probably know that “What goes down must come up” or that “You lose some, you win some”.
My Monkeys or My Circus as an Election Elixir
I’m here on Tuesday, which is yesterday to me), wondering what the next 24 hours will bring. Civil unrest? Rioting? Guns? Rapid-fire lawyering? Perhaps hanging chads have been a thing of the passé, but perhaps not.
“Not my circus, not my monkeys” is the best motto for times of uncertainty. A year of uncertainty has made it difficult to find a phrase that fits the modern age.
Today, Tuesday is the day I thought, OK, I voted. I did my share. I can do no more. It was my circus when I held an unfilled-out ballot. Those were my monkeys. My ballot has been submitted, and it’s now my circus. My responsibility is not to the monkeys that are out there. Therefore, calmly going about my day is the best course of action. It is a beautiful day. It is a beautiful day.
Now it is Wednesday morning (that would be today to you), so I am keeping an eye on the news. This is where I belong. I love my country. I am very concerned about the outcome of this electoral election. But I’m no candidate. I don’t work as a candidate. This election is not something I cover as a journalist. I’m not an individual who tabulates votes. I’m just a blogger who has suffered a mild head injury and loves cute monkeys.
I will keep following the news. If it is prudent to do so, I will be proactive. However, there is no prudent thing I can do right now.
This election does not belong to my monkeys or me.
My Circus and My Monkeys
Folks, this blog entry was tons of fun!
We’re sure all hungry after a long night.
Servants to Excellence
“Woman. Believe me. An hour is coming when neither here nor in Jerusalem shall you worship the Father. . . But, there’s a moment coming when true worshippers of the Father will worship him in spirit and truth. . . John 4: 21 – 23
Millennials are familiar with a Polish proverb that says, “Not my circus. Not my monkeys”. It’s a way of saying, “Don’t drag my drama into your issues and my problems. I’m not getting involved.”
This phrase was used once by my daughter, and it stuck with me. Jesus used this same thinking many times. A perfect example is the Samaritan Woman in John 4 at the Well. We all know the story. Jesus asks her to name her husband. She replies, “I do not have a husband.”
And Jesus’ response? He tells her something he doesn’t think he should know: She has been married to five men and now lives with a man she does not consider her husband. I’m sure she was stunned when he said, “Sir. It seems that I believe you are a prophet.”
Let’s stop for a moment and then say together, “No kidding!”
She continued, “Our fathers worshipped here, and you Jews say that Jerusalem should be the place where men worship.”
Jesus response? Jesus’ response?
It’s a beautiful thing. Jesus didn’t get drawn into religious debates about non-essential subjects. He was all about one thing. He was conciliating his Father with men and women. Jesus thought that peripheral matters were a waste.
Faith questions can be asked when we reach out and help those who come into our centres, clinics, or maternity homes. However, much of the questions we ask will be more peripheral than those asked by the Samaritan Woman. Do you believe that a Christian can do such? That?”
People looking for answers to other issues often want to find a middle ground, a way to say, “You don’t believe in me so that we won’t listen.”
If we want to share Christ’s love with others, we need to get to the heart. Jesus did it. After the Woman at Well had asked her non-essential query, Jesus’ response, which penetrated her heart, led her to say that Jesus knew that Messiah was coming (He who is named Christ); when that happens, he will declare all things.
Aha. Jesus challenged her to find a new way of worshipping Him.
Jesus then said, “I, who speak to You, am he.”
Wow. Jesus said that “where to worship” was not a matter of “not my circus, nor my monkeys”. Jesus was able to find the heart of the matter. He was transformed within minutes.
It is a lesson that we can all learn from. Let us seek wisdom to respond “Not my circus” to some questions and seek the truth. It is a powerful tool for anyone who seeks accurate answers.