Monday, October 30, 2006

The Rainbow Fish

The kids and I walked up to the quaint little locally owned bookshop today.  It really is a nice place to hang out.  It's tucked on a side street in historic downtown in what was once an historic law office.

While perusing the children's books, and reading one after another to Silas and Emma,  The Rainbow Fish was thrust into my hands.  It's a book with a colorful and flashy cover.  I've read this book before and it rubbed me the wrong way, and today was no different.

If you aren't familiar with this popular children's book here is the premise.  Rainbow Fish, "the most beautiful fish in the entire ocean," refuses to share his beautiful scales. Actually he doesn't want to give them away; share would imply their return.  This leaves him without friends or admirers, so he asks the wise old octopus for advice.  The octopus counsels him to give away his beauty and "discover how to be happy."  After sharing a single scale, "a rather peculiar feeling came over Rainbow Fish."  He ends up giving all but one of his beautiful scales away.  Now all of the fish look the same and Rainbow fish has tons of friends and is happy.  Yuck! 

I'd like to think that true frineds wouldn't care what you look like.  Variety is the spice of life.  How boring it would be if we all looked the same, right?   I've actually had this happen to me, so I can kinda empathize with poor little Rainbow Fish.  People have actually hated me because of my figure.  Yes, I've actually been told this to my face.  It seems a rather petty reason to hate someone, don't you think?  Perhaps I should plump up a bit so people will like me better.  Then we can all hang out, complain about our weight, and hate all of those skinny people together.    Puh-leeeeze.  The message seems to be that mediocrity is the path to happiness.  We all just need to be average.

Another thing I hate about this message is the giving away of yourself.  While it is a wonderful thing to give and expect nothing in return, it does't make for the healthiest of relationships.  True and lasting friendships are a matter of give and take.  You listen to me, I'll listen to you.  Poor little Rainbow Fish gave almost every last bit of himself to make all of the other fish in the ocean happy.  That made them his "friends".  Here I again I can empathize with Rainbow Fish.  Somedays I feel like I give every little bit of myself away to everyone else, and most days I don't get much back.  It doesn't make me happy like Rainbow Fish though.  It leaves me exhausted and wanting more.  It leaves me wondering who I am.  Because if I've given so much of myself away, there's really no me left.  No wonder my identity is so wrapped up in my children, that's where all of me has been invested.

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