Last week I began packing for my upcoming move. Since books are a huge part of my personal possessions, I decided to begin with a small bookcase.
I had almost finished when I noticed a copy of Marianne Williamson’s A Return to Love tucked away in a corner. Since I’m attempting to be ruthless about weeding my collection, I almost put it in the discard pile, but then noticed I had flagged a couple of passages.
After I checked them out, I began browsing in the book, which I hadn’t looked at for several years, and pretty soon I was rereading several sections.
In her chapter on work she says, “Carl Jung advised people to look closely into whatever fairy tales or myths particularly attracted them as children.” She goes on to suggest that our favorite stories often held clues to our own right livelihood.
That got me thinking about stories from my own early days. One that immediately came to mind did not contain a princess or a dragon.
It was the story of The Little Red Hen. In case you’ve forgotten it, the story concerns a hen who finds some wheat and decides to plant it.
She asks the other animals for help, but they all turn her down. At every step of the way, she asks for help again, to no avail, until the she bakes the bread that comes from the wheat. Then everyone eagerly shows up.
As I thought about this simple little story, I realized that I know many little red hens. In fact, many of my friends are people who had an idea that got zero support from the folks around them.
Undeterred, they forged ahead, launched a business or a product or a creation. They did it because it was the right thing to do, not because it was wildly popular—at least not in the embryonic stage.
Just as I was mulling all that, a Facebook friend sent me a message about a children’s book she had just read called Inventor McGregor by Kathleen T. Pelley. She thought I’d enjoy it as well.
I promptly tracked it down at my neighborhood library and was captivated. It’s a delightful tale of one outrageously creative fellow named Hector McGregor who “lived in a higgledy-piggledy house with a cheery wife, five children and a hen called Hattie.”
He becomes a local hero because of his genius for inventing solutions to everyday problems. Then one day he gets a job offer and leaves his home for the prestige of working in a laboratory at the Royal Society of Inventors.
Guess what happens to his imagination.
Not only is Inventor McGregor one of the best books I’ve ever read on creativity, it’s a story that I hope becomes one that influences a generation of young readers to opt for the joyfully jobless life. I’m going to donate a copy to my grandchildren’s personal library right away.
Even if you don’t have a child to read it with, find a copy and treat yourself. After all, it would be a shame to miss a story that’s as wise as it is whimsical.
And if you have a favorite fairy tale or myth that’s influenced your life, tell us about it.