Focus Too Much on a Particular Result and You Lose Focus on the Bigger Picture

Sometimes we’re so focused on a desired outcome that we try to nudge it a little force it and just end up frustrating ourselves. Sometimes, while respecting the fact that we can’t always get what we want the exact minute that we want it, we forget that spending a good amount of time having reasonable expectations will not guarantee that we will be “rewarded” on those occasions when we want a little more than usual. Sometimes we just don’t know how to be satisfied with what we’ve got going on right here, right now.

We want more stuff because we deserve more stuff because we deny ourselves. We want more money because we deserve more money because we never rock the boat by asking for a raise (to be fair, minimum wage is not a wage). We want more time because we deserve more time because we fill all our time with the wants and the needs and the expectations of others.

It’s all perfectly natural, and most of the time it’s perfectly reasonable. What about least of the time? What about those moments when there is no intersection for the roads Want and Need, or Natural and Reasonable?

More More More

Suppose you’re a king with three thrones, and each is a different color so that folks can tell where your head’s at: you have a white throne to sit in when you’re happy, a red throne for when you’re feeling so-so, and a black throne for when you’re pissed. A selfless king would always use the corresponding throne for the corresponding emotion. Yet a king is just a man, a human being prone to wanting more, and he may want more of a reaction from people.

So, on a white throne kind of day, you decide to sit in your black throne. Well, now everyone is worried they’ve done something wrong and want to do whatever they can to make you happy while you are happily watching how everyone reacts and – sad to say – manipulating them. Basically, you’ve added boredom and dissatisfaction and greed to the list of reasons for your using the black throne, and set yourself up in a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

You see, you’ve also got three princesses for daughters; a homely brunette, a so-so redhead, and a beautiful blonde (don’t worry, I’m 100% building on an actual Italian folktale here). On the day we’re discussing, the brunette – whose homeliness has instilled in her an appreciation for the essentials – tells you she loves you as much as she loves bread and you are pleased because it is so essential to daily living that it is the only food mentioned by name in daily prayer. You’re redheaded child – who is pretty enough to be called pretty and has a taste for fine things – says she loves you as well as wine which pleases you for it is both a luxury and a staple in most any fairy tale kingdom.

Too Much of a Good Thing

Since your humble child gave a humble answer and your pretty child gave a pretty answer, you would think your most beautiful child would give the most beautiful answer. After guaranteeing yourself a day of being pampered, you have spoiled your own thoughts to taking your children as they are. What would you do if your best child (basic fairy tale trope) told you that you were as dear to them as salt?

Well, in the case of the original King of Threes, he was so surprised by her answer that he became enraged – his mood finally matching the throne upon which he sat his big-insensitive butt – and summarily condemned his daughter to death. Upon being told that he was loved as well as salt, he told a soldier to take his best child out to the woods and kill her. He set himself up for the fall, and then punished his child for it.

Here’s the thing, we’ve all done this. Maybe Hopefully we haven’t killed for it, but we’ve still done it. Things go along ever-so-smoothly and then one thing doesn’t go as planned and suddenly we decide all of our efforts have been a waste and there’s nothing salvageable and everything sucks and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.

Something Anyone Can Do

Lucky for everyone in the original story, the King’s wife – you know, the Queen – didn’t like the idea of her child being summarily executed. So, she hides the princess in the base of a large candlestick and tells a trusted servant to sell it to the first worthy-looking nobleman who enquires about the price. He’s to tell the nobleman it costs next to nothing and everyone else it’s worth a fortune.

Okay, yeah, sure, she’s technically-literally selling her daughter, but it beats the alternative and – again – fairy tale. Let’s focus on the fact that the princess is hidden inside a candlestick, the thing that remains no matter how many wicks are lit and candles left to melt all the way down. A single life is a limited thing, but the family tree continues if only through affection.

So, the unexpected and de facto unwanted result of previous efforts is preserved. The truth is out there, simply recovering from our temper tantrum or moving on to someone else who will make something of it. For the King of Threes though, it’s both.

Worth Your Salt

The princess – her name is Zizola, by the way – ends up marrying a prince who is a bit of a trickster like her father (he had the candlestick farce carried literally all the way to the altar). Yet, when she explains her origins to her mother-in-law, that queen invites Zizola’s father to dinner and denies him the pleasure of eating his daughter’s words. The Queen does this by making sure there is absolutely no salt in any of the food he is served.

Course after the course, the king does not eat his food because the “foolish” cook has not added salt to any of the dishes and so he finds them unpalatable. Then it dawns on him, his daughter was trying to tell him that without him there was no stomaching her existence (which she probably changed her mind about when he tried to have her killed). He begins to weep because he believes his daughter is dead and his new in-laws reveal themselves as such and – surprise – here’s your daughter, and a second dinner with salt in the dishes.

Sometimes we need a little help. Sometimes we need someone else to put things into perspective, to show us that our efforts weren’t wasted after all. Sometimes we need to get out of our own way and just see where things will go instead of writing something off and turning our backs on the potential hidden in the “unwanted.”