I decided to write this post after I read an article titled “Non Profit Brand as a Place” written by Tom Peterson. Something in Peterson’s article reminded me of a fairy tale, and that recollection sparked my desire to describe the connection between the fairy tale and recovery from adversity such as brain injury.
In case you are not familiar with the fairy tale, I will provide a summary of the version I heard as a child. My guess is that the story I heard is considerably different than it was originally written and possibly different than it is today.
During her journey through the forest, a little girl became lost, hungry, and tired. As she wandered through the forest, she happened upon a house, knocked on the door, but when nobody answered she let herself inside. She walked to the kitchen and saw three bowls of porridge — the porridge in one bowl was too hot, in another it was too cold, and in the third bowl it was just right so she ate it all. As soon as her tummy was full, she walked to another room where she found three chairs. She sat in one chair, but it was too big so she moved to another chair which was also too big. The third chair was just right. However, shortly after she sat in it, the third chair broke. She was now extremely tired and needed to nap so she walked to the bedroom where she saw three beds. The first bed was too hard, the second was too soft, but the third bed was just right so she quickly fell asleep in it.
While the girl was sleeping, the three bears came back to their house. The daddy bear said “someone’s been eating my porridge,” the mommy bear said, “someone’s been eating my porridge too,” and the baby bear said, “someone ate all of my porridge.” During a quick survey of each room in the house, the daddy bear noticed that someone had been sleeping in his bed, the mommy bear noticed that someone had been sleeping in her bed, and the baby bear noticed that someone had been sleeping in its bed and she was still in the bed.
Unfortunately, I cannot remember either the ending or moral of the story. A quick internet search revealed only that the story had changed dramatically over time. I see this as an opportunity to create my own ending and moral. However, this post is about the connection between the fairy tale and recovery from adversity, not the fairy tale itself.
As I see it, the little girl’s journey through the forest is an allegory for recovery from adversity. Everyone knows children should not be alone in the forest. Similarly, people should not be alone during their recovery from brain injury. Even though she tried to correct her original high-risk plan by asking for directions and help, nobody was home and she quickly let herself into the house. She, just like some brain injury patients, does not plan well or make reasonable decisions. Although she does not think there is a problem, those of us who hear the story quickly recognize she needs additional cognitive therapy. When she realizes that the resources available to her are not a perfect fit for her needs (too hot, cold, big, flimsy, hard, and soft), she adapts until she finds what she needs — then falls asleep. Similarly, people who are recovering from brain injury fatigue quickly after minimal tasks.
The purpose of this post is to show the connection between a fairy tale and adversity such as brain injury. I am not advocating for, or justifying, illegal entry, theft, and burglary. I really don’t understand why fairy tales or recent stories (Barefoot Bandit) advocate, promote, sensationalize, and reward illegal behavior with accolades such as fame, Facebook friends, and $1.3 million movie deals.
- How would you write the end of the story?
- What other stories do you feel are simply allegories for recovery from adversity?
Thanks to Tom Peterson for writing the article that inspired me to write this post, Arthur Rackham whose 1837 illustrations I included in this post, SammyDavis53 whose picture on Flickr Creative Commons I included in this post, and all the other people who made it possible for me to create and publish this post.