Whose Thoughts are These, Anyway?

Once upon a time there was a fish. He was just like most other fish; he had a fish mother and father, and fish brothers and sisters. I’m not sure what kind of fish he actually was, only that it wasn’t the kind of fish that people normally like to eat. I suppose if you were starving, and you didn’t have anything at all to eat, you might want to eat this fish and his family, but I don’t think he would be very filling. He wasn’t a particularly large fish.

It’s interesting how your appetite can affect your decision making process. I’m sure you have had the experience of going to the grocery store while hungry. Perhaps you wanted to pick up something simple to eat like a cup of strawberry yogurt or a box of frozen pizza rolls, but you ended up buying five hundred dollars worth of stuff that you didn’t know you needed until it was right in front of you. Making you salivate in a way that only an expert marketer knows how to do through various product placement strategies.

Of course if you are a fish, not unlike the subject of this story, you don’t really need to worry about that. Because everything you need is all around you. Food, water, other fish. Fish don’t have separate places where they need to go and buy food, because it’s kind of just floating all over the place, so they just grab it when they want it. I’m pretty sure that fish don’t keep lists of things they need to buy when they get around to going to the corner supermarket.

So anyways, this fish was on his way to school one day, with his friends. They were pretty nervous because it was the first day of school after summer vacation. They were starting the fourth grade. They had heard stories about their teacher, and there were many conflicting reports. Some kids said that she was really mean, and others said that she was really nice and supportive. Others said they didn’t remember her at all, like she was kind of vague source of various instructions that didn’t seem to be any different than other everyday school instruction.

So finally they all arrived, and sat in their desks. They didn’t know where they were supposed to sit. Last year they had been told on the first day where to sit, as their third grade teacher had a specific seating chart which was based on their second grade performance. They all remembered how when they first walked in the room, they were immediately given their seat assignment, which made some of them feel relieved. I’m sure you can understand that.

But in this fourth grade class, the teacher didn’t say anything. She just sat at her desk and smiled. They students didn’t take long to realize they had to choose their own seats, and starting milling about, deciding whether they wanted to sit up front, or sit in the back. They students that heard that this new teacher was nice gravitated to the front of the room. And those that heard she was mean gravitated to the back of the room. Obviously, friends sat next to each other, so the could try and gossip while their fourth grade teachers back was turned. When they all had chosen a seat, she stood.

Young fish, you need to experience what it means to make a decision. You are growing up. No longer can you rely on others to make your decisions for you. You may think you have chosen your own seats, but have you really? Those that sat in the front, who chose those seats? Did you, or did the people that told you I was a nice teacher choose those seats for you? How about you sitting in the back, did you choose those seats, or did those friends of yours who said I was a mean teacher choose those seats for you? What thoughts are really your thoughts? What decisions are truly your decisions? The older you get, the more you have to understand that all of your thoughts are somehow influenced by what others say to you, whether you realize it or not. If you really want to become an adult some day, you will need to truly decide for yourself. I warn you, that is very difficult, as it takes a lot of effort. Most people don’t want to do that. Most people are content to drift through life letting others tell them how to live, what to eat, what to drink, how to enjoy their free time. Most people think they are free, but they are really not, as their minds and thoughts and ideas and beliefs are shaped by those around them. Only those that are truly free know the truth. Know how to think for yourself. So, let us begin.

With that she started teaching the confused little fish about geography and history and long division.