What would happen if you took your pet goldfish for a walk?
Silly question isn’t it?
Everyone knows a fish can’t walk – that’s why you get a dog!
“I can’t believe my boss didn’t ask me how my Mum was. He’s knows she’s been in hospital all week, I told him a few days ago”.
The conversation was going rapid fire, and my friend was convincingly puzzled, cross and hurt. I knew her boss, and, well, I can’t ever imagine him raising more than a grunt at the best of times, let alone asking a single soul about their own welfare – a blue moon would strike him down if he thought to enquire about anyone’s parents.
“Really? What would make you think he’s the kind of person who was capable of caring about your Mum’s wellbeing?” I was equally puzzled.
“Well, that’s what a boss should do – care about you and know if you were away from work, it was for a very good and very stressful reason.”
“Well, maybe he should – but he’s never, ever been like that. I’m pretty convinced he’s missing the compassionate gene and he just doesn’t get it…”
Some people are in life-roles that carry a universal expectation they basically aren’t capable of – ever.
Regardless of what we expect and need from them (or their role) – they will never, ever, ever deliver. They’re simply not born that way.
You’ve heard/had/heralded/held many such times…
“Why won’t he call to say he’s sorry?”
“Really, you know him better than that – he’s never said sorry in his life”
“Why does my sister need this to be all about her”
“Everything is about her, or else she chucks a major wobbly – you know that.”
“I can’t believe Dad didn’t come to see my University graduation. He knew how important it was for me.”
“He’s not turned up for the past 24 years, what makes you think this time would be different”
“I can’t understand why my ex brother-in-law doesn’t help my sister more with Amy and Sam – it’s like he has no parental connection with them”
“When has he ever shown a parental connection with them and why do you expect him to suddenly start now?”
I have a great conversation with two of my best friends. And we chuckle.
It started when my very intelligent and worldly girlfriend was in mid –perplex. “I don’t get it! Why doesn’t XX just do XX – that’s what XX’s do – don’t they”
“He’s never done XX or really been like an XX before, so I’m pretty sure he won’t pull this rabbit out of his hat”.
Then – as Queen of the visual analogies, I saw it so clearly –
It’s like you want a dog. Right. You want a dog you can walk around the block on a lead – that’s what dogs do and that’s what you want.
So you go to the pet store and ask for a dog but all he has that day is a goldfish. You insist you want a dog and explain exactly why you want a dog and he convinces you to take the goldfish. It’s still a pet.
So you get the goldfish home and immediately strap a leash around his neck and march him out the door and half a block down you turn around and see he’s no longer with us – eeekk.
Not all pets are physically capable of going walkies with us.
Just as not all parents, partners, exes, siblings, bosses, children and friends are emotionally or psychologically capable of their role, regardless of what we may need or desperately want of them.
If you’re looking to a certain person to be reliable, responsive, apologetic, honest, caring, soft, forgiving, strong, able or just aware and you’re continuously surprised, hurt, devastated or broken that they just not what they’re ‘supposed’ to be – ask yourself honestly have they ever been the way you desire before and are they truly capable of being this way…..
….or are you just taking a goldfish for a walk around the block hoping he is secretly a dog who will soon get what’s expected of him….