The Magic Bean

The Magic Bean

“First tell us a story then sing for us. When you are done, we will all pray and go to sleep” Hailey clearly gives the sequence of events when I try to send them to slumber land with just a prayer. Heidi nods in agreement with her sister. A prayer is never enough. A short story, a song, prayer, then sleep.

I don’t know why I have to sing on most days at 7.30pm in the evening but I indulge them anyway. When you see Hailey’s face as she watches me sing, you would think she is watching Celine Dion in concert. There is never a dull moment with these children of mine. Not one!

The story is always a selection from Cinderella, Snow White and the seven dwarfs, and Little Red Riding Hood. I really need to expand my fairy tales scope. I tried Rumpelstiltskin but scratched it when I couldn’t remember what happens after: Once upon a time, there was a girl called Rumpelstiltskin who had long golden hair. Her hair was so long that it was used as a ladder… Then I hit a blank. I should read that story again to refresh my memory as soon as I am done with writing this post. The things we do for love. *le sigh!*.

The story I enjoy telling the most though, is the one about the boy who cried wolf. I like this story because I get to drive the importance of honesty into my girls’ heads. You should see me saying with exaggerated emphasis, forefinger pointing up; “…the moral of the story is if you insist on telling lies, no one will believe you when you tell the truth” I think I have repeated this phrase a ‘nauseating’ couple of times but thankfully my girls are still too respectful to use the phrase “Shut up Mum!” – I am not sure how long that will last though.

For the longest time, I have been aware that repeating the above stories could soon earn me the badge ‘Boring Mum’. Then this weekend, Phoebe Buffay, she of the comedy Friends (Yeah, don’t mind me. Carry on into the future with The Big Bang Theory while I hang around the 20th Century for a while longer) handed a fairy tale to me.

It is season 1 of Friends. The one where it all began. Rachel has just left Barry (the groom, an orthodontist) at the altar. She couldn’t marry him because she realized at the last moment, when she was fully dressed in a wedding gown, when the church was full with congregants eager to witness an exchange of nuptials. At that moment, just as she was about to walk towards her future husband’s arms, she realized then that she did not have feelings for Barry. Poor Barry! Great timing?!

So here is Rachel, wondering whether she made a mistake. She left Barry at the altar. Barry was an orthodontist, you know, quite the catch? (Because she was marrying his job?) Now she is at a point where she is second-guessing herself. What if she lives to regret this decision for the rest of her life? Phoebe then steps in. I love Phoebe! She compares Rachel to Jack.  No, not Jack from downstairs. Jack from the Jack and the beanstalk story.

Once upon a time, there was a boy called Jack who lived with her widowed mother. They were very poor. All they had was one cow which they depended on for milk. The cow stopped producing milk and Jack’s mother, not knowing what to do, decided to sell the cow because, you know, hard times. Jack was assigned the task of taking the cow to the market to find a buyer for it. Instead of giving Jack money in exchange for the cow, a butcher offered him five beans which unbeknownst to Jack’s mother, were magic beans. Her mother was (understandably) annoyed to get beans in place of her precious cow. Vexed, she threw them out of the window, into the garden where they grew into a huge beanstalk that stretched all the way to the sky. Curious Jack climbs up the beanstalk and discovers a castle whose occupants are a rich Giant and his wife. A beautiful maiden appears from nowhere and informs Jack that everything the Giant has belonged to his father, and was therefore rightfully theirs. Jack then gets into the habit of climbing up the beanstalk to the castle and stealing from the giant when he goes to sleep. He steals gold, a magic hen that lays golden eggs and a magic harp that can sing. His luck however runs out one day when the Giant catches him stealing and starts chasing him down the beanstalk. Jack then yells for his mum to bring an axe, which he uses to cut the beanstalk. The Giant falls with a thud and that was the end of him. Jack and his mum henceforth live richly, happily ever after.

Back to Friends; Rachel wonders if she made a mistake leaving the good life behind to become a waitress in New York. Her friends Phoebe and Monica are trying to encourage her. Just like Jack, she had lost a cow that was not adding value to her life anymore. The Magic bean doesn’t look as valuable as the ‘cow’ was, but it turned things around for Jack and her mother. Rachel’s magic bean is a job as a waitress. A lacklustre job; as lacklustre as a bean is when compared to money. The magic of Rachel’s bean is however manifested in her growth as an independent woman who doesn’t need her father’s credit cards (which she cuts to pieces) or her (orthodontist) husband to survive.

There is always a magic bean for everyone who lets go of something that they believed they couldn’t do without. The magic bean is neither lush nor glamorous. It looks like a pathetic mirage of what we let go of. But that magic bean gets you from where you are, to where you need to be. You have to let go of a cow that doesn’t produce milk anymore, in the same way you need to let go of a bad relationship that is hurting you, an addiction that is consuming you; anything that does not add value to your life. Anything that hinders your growth.

To get from a point of misery, poverty, hopelessness, to a point of clarity, hope, and success a magic bean, a very mundane-looking magic bean, could be all you need to hold on to.

I guess you know which story I am telling the girls tonight?

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