The danger of becoming the Fisherman’s Wife

There is a Grimm’s Brothers Tale, entitled “The Fisherman and His Wife”, that has stuck with me since the first time I heard it. In short, though I am almost certain you have read it, a poor fisherman catches a magical fish who will grant him a wish to spare the fish’s life. Stunned that the fish can talk, the fisherman lets it go without capitalizing on the offer. He goes home to tell his wife and she urges him go back and find the fish to ask for a house upgrade from their dirty little shack. The fish grants that request and the husband goes home to a wife who is happy…for a short time. She decides to continually call on the fish for more, (she’s had success so far!) the husband asks and the fish comes through. This continues a few more times until her demands are so insane that the fish (exhausted and irritated by the insatiable desire) returns them back to their original squalor.

Personally, I am a big dreamer. I’d like to think that I always have been a dreamer. I can still remember three dreams that I had when I was really little, even younger than my kids are now. Two of them stand out because they were so scary and the third because it represented my heart’s desire – scary in its own way. I have been through periods of my life where I couldn’t dream, mainly times of high stress and broken sleep patterns, but it always returns when I hit the stride of a new normal. There are so many mixed messages when it comes to dreaming, some urging us to hold steadfastly to our dreams, others arguing for us to release them to ensure their prophecy.

The flaw in dreams is that they come true. It’s okay if you just reread that sentence and wondered if I had been day-drinking, but I meant it and unless you count the hit of caffeine from my Diet Coke, I sit unaltered. Once I achieve a dream, I run the risk (almost immediately) of revising my request. You may find yourself in some of my fisherman’s wife scenarios. Such as, “Please oh please oh please let me get pregnant”. Two Blue lines. “Please oh please oh please let me STAY pregnant”. This one is pretty innocent and I feel like I have an ally in you on the amendment. Similarly, summoning James Corden (of the Late Late show) to have the Beibs (that’s Justin Beiber for the uninitiated) back for Carpool Karaoke II, quickly morphed into me “The Secret-ing” him to entice Beyoncé to join him sometime very soon. Again, I feel that kind of joy would be instrumental in a collective happiness that benefits us all.
What of the shakier appeals? Such as when the 65” flat screen pales in comparison with the outdoor projector (for the kids, of course, because they deserve a childhood), are you still on my side? Or how about when you, through slow, hot miles, plug away and lose seven hard won (or lost, depending on how you see it) pounds, but shift your attention to the eleven more you REALLY want gone. Sometimes when we get exactly what we want, we say a generic “Thanks” then want a lot more of it; a conundrum which unapologetically holds a well-polished mirror to our motives, glaring as that might be.

The antidote to becoming the Fisherman’s Wife is the same cure to pretty much all that ails you; gratitude. It’s not that universal fortune is in short supply, but the energy that fuels it is love and goodness (and probably puppies and rainbows, but more research is needed for the cat ladies I love). When you are feeling hashtag blessed, appreciating it and sending it out to others, you put it out there for you and for me and for everyone else. You aren’t thinking about what would REALLY complete you. You aren’t thinking about how if this impeccable moment lasted just a little bit longer it would be perfect. We have those glimpses, where the seamless song comes on, or your hamburger is cooked expertly, the fireworks display is unbelievable, your full flush from being outside works as if you have mastered blush, you name it. You own the moment and full of deep appreciation you momentarily bow your head in thanks. Then the song ends and UGH!!! A COMMERCIAL comes on, or you drip ketchup down the front of the white dress you just bought, and you think, couldn’t I just have a MOMENT?! Can’t it just go smoothly for once?! (Ahem, it just did, like, once, a moment ago). I hope you don’t find yourself in this sort of bipolar exchange, but when I get stuck in that spot, I check myself with this little ditty; Oh, Fish in the sea/Come listen to me/my wife begs a wish/from the magic fish…


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