On July 18, 2017 – 14 days after my dad’s suicide – I had my first dream about my dad. And this dream has forever changed the way I live my life.
My dad was in my parents’ cheerful, yellow kitchen at their lake house. He was standing in front of the kitchen sink, and was preparing to make some food. A large green bowl that my parents always used for large dishes, such as my mom’s famous Thanksgiving stuffing or my dad’s fan favorite fried walleye, was sitting on the counter.
I stormed into the kitchen and haughtily said to my dad, “Can you believe that mom wants to have a fish fry for all of these people?! Why would she do that? Doesn’t she know that it is a lot of work and money to make fried fish for everybody?”
I was expecting that my dad would have the same indignant response as me. However, he looked at me and said, “Make the fish. The walleye in the freezer will go bad if you don’t use it.”
And that’s it.
Author Eileen Elias Freeman once stated, “Pay attention to your dreams – God’s angels often speak directly to our hearts when we are asleep.” And for this instance, that quote could not be more true.
Initially, I thought about this dream on a more literal level. I called my mom, shared this dream with her, and asked, “Does dad have fish in the freezer?” And my mom responded, “Yes, actually he has some walleye in the freezer for you. I will give it to you the next time you are here.”
Great, problem solved.
However, one of my best friends had a more metaphorical view of this dream that I think is spot-on.
She mentioned that in many cultures, a fish often symbolizes good luck, good fortune, and a long life. So instead of interpreting the dream from a literal perspective you could view this dream as a call to action.
Make the fish. Live your life to the fullest. If you put off your aspirations until later, your talents will go to waste. Don’t save your resources for a special occasion. The time is now. Share the labor of your fruits. Be generous. You were made for more. Don’t let these blessings expire.
“Live your life to the fullest. If you put off your aspirations until later, your talents will go to waste. Don’t save your resources for a special occasion. The time is now. Share the labor of your fruits. Be generous. You were made for more. Don’t let these blessings expire.”
Since that time, I think about this dream a lot. When things get tough, when I am restricting myself from experiencing something great, or when I am fearful of making a bold change, I hear my dad’s voice, “Make the fish. The walleye in the freezer will go bad if you don’t use it.”
My Challenge for Our Lives
So that’s what I’ve been doing. Why I decided to make a huge career move when I was thriving in my role, why I created this blog with transparency and vulnerability, and even why I allowed myself to splurge on experiences in the past year such as Taylor Swift pit tickets, a John Legend meet-and-greet, and vacations to Key West and Cozumel.
This is my life. This is your life. These are our lives. And we’ve each only got one.
So how do you want to spend it? Apologizing? Regretting? Questioning? Hating yourself? Hating others? Making yourself small so others around you feel big?
I don’t want to live that way and I don’t think you do, either. Instead, I am challenging myself and others to live big. Act bold. Take risks. Be kind. Be generous.
4 thoughts on “Make the Fish – A Metaphor for Life”
Thank you so much for sharing this! You have such a beautiful way with words.
Thank you so much!
Well said. The gift of urgency is invaluable when we truly understand that we only have one life to live. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you, Nathan!