What have I given up on?

Questions We’re Afraid to Ask – #30

What have I given up on?What have I
given up on?

There is a classic story about a fish that was being studied by scientists. All his needs were met and he was in perfect health. At feeding time the scientists would drop some minnows into the tank, the fish would promptly consume every one of them.  

One day the scientists changed their routine. Instead of releasing the minnows freely into the tank, they placed them inside a glass tube. The tube was designed so that water could flow freely through it. The large fish swimming in the tank could easily see the tiny fish inside the tube. As the big fish grew hungry it began to try to get to the small fish inside the tube, pushing the tube around the tank and against the side. Of course, the hungrier he became the harder he tried. He knocked that tube with his tail and then with his whole body. Harder and harder he swatted at that tube as his hunger became overwhelming. But eventually the fish learned that he could not get to the minnows, no matter how hard he tried he simply couldn’t open the tube. So he gave up.

After watching the big fish for a while longer, the scientists removed the tube and released the minnows back into the large tank alongside the big fish.

Can you guess what happened next?

big fish surrounded by foodThe large fish starved to death.

With minnows swimming freely all around him, he starved to death.

Why? How could that possibly happen?

The answer isn’t obvious, but it is simple. The big fish had given up. He no longer believed he could eat the little fish, and once he stopped believing, he no longer tried.

What have I given up on?

What have I tried to do over and over again with little or no success?

Was the time just not right?  Is it possible that I simply wasn’t ready or that I still have few things to learn?

What opportunities are now swirling around me that I’m not seeing simply because I’ve given up, quit believing, and am no longer looking?

Steve Vernon photo

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