One of my favourite stories from the Brothers Grimm is The Fisherman and his Wife.
A poor fisherman helps an enchanted fish who grants him a wish in gratitude. He wishes for a house. His wife complains and makes him go back and exchange his wish for a new one.
He wishes for a mansion. His wife complains and makes him go back… and so on and so on.
Inevitably the wife takes it too far and has the hapless fisherman ask the enchanted fish to make them into Gods. The angry fish takes away all their wishes and the fisherman and his wife end up back in their original shack.
When do you know enough is enough?
Ambition, challenges and stretching personal boundaries are all encouraged in our society. You can end up pursuing something because at some level it satisfies a need but it’s still not getting you what you want.
Could it be that you’ve lost sight of what you want?
Trying new things is great, letting go is an important part of the process too.
I lost my way with twitter. Being self-employed and working alone, I used to use it as a light break, nothing important. Then I hired a marketing guy who convinced me to use twitter to promote “my brand”. He told me to stick to certain topics and taught me strategies to “work” twitter.
It never really gelled with me, I began to hate twitter and blogging. It didn’t feel natural anymore, too contrived and forced. I was quite relieved when I moved to Dubai and other things took priority. I deleted all my tweets, abandoned all the self-promotion and immediately felt so much lighter.
You have this set of drivers in your mind that set your ideal flavour for how things need to be for you.
They’re an image that imprints itself like wallpaper in your mind and just like real wallpaper, it can become invisible and you don’t focus on it. But although it’s invisible, you can’t escape these drivers – they’re the voice that pipes up when you’re feeling serene.
We get so caught up in the latest “must have” that the driver becomes a nagging voice to ignore, or a weight in the pit of your stomach you try and drown with wine or suffocate with a smoke or soothe through seeking validation from a fickle world.
The must-haves feel so important. Promotion, 6 years of not talking to your sister because you don’t feel it was fair she got mad after you broke her iron, getting more retweets from people who won’t even remember doing it.
But through it all, the drivers are always there reminding you that something is getting away. A desperate clawing tearing at you to listen, to find your destiny, to fulfil the potential of that beautiful little baby you once were that had its whole magical life lying ahead.
That need never goes away. It can be dulled and dimmed and you may never express it but you’ll always know something is missing.
I wonder if the fisherman’s wife really knew what she wanted.
How do you know what’s important to you?