Once upon a time there was a fisherman. He wasn't a bad man, but he wasn't an especially good man either. He just kept himself to himself. Whenever his neighbors had trouble the fisherman pretended not to notice.
One day the fisherman was out at sea, fishing in his boat, when a sudden and violent storm blew up.
The wind was blowing the fisherman's boat ever closer to some jagged rocks. He knew that if his boat hit the rocks it would be broken in pieces and he would be drowned. He was very scared.
The fisherman had never prayed, but in desperation he cried out: "God, if you save me I'll do anything you ask!"
Just as suddenly as it had arrived so the storm quietened down. The fisherman brought the boat back under his control and guided it safely back to shore.
Back home and still shaking he went straight to the kitchen to make himself a strong cup of tea.
Just then came a blinding flash of white light and a deep voice spoke: "I helped you today, now I want you to spend the rest of your life helping others."
So relieved to be alive the fisherman began to do exactly as he'd been asked. Wherever anyone needed help he offered a hand. He helped ladies carrying heavy shopping bags, men to push their broken-down cars, and children to fix their bikes.
One day as he was hurrying home to watch his favorite TV show he noticed an old lady waiting to cross the road. He knew that he ought to stop and help her, but really didn't want to miss the start of the show so he pretended not to notice and hurried along.
Just as he was settling in front of the TV with a glass of beer there was another flash of blinding white light.
The deep voice spoke again: "You promised you would help others, but today you broke that promise. Every time you look in a mirror from now on you will not see yourself, but instead you shall see a skeleton covered with rotting flesh. Only by becoming human on the inside will you ever again see yourself as human on the outside."
Trembling, the fisherman went into the bathroom and took a peek at the mirror. The voice was right. He looked hideous.
Next day, carefully keeping his eyes covered, the fisherman removed every mirror from his house. But still he saw his grotesque image everywhere he went, reflected in every shop window, shiny surface and puddle.
Once again he started being helpful to other people, but this time he was determined never to stop being helpful for any reason.
Gradually, the fisherman's reflection began to return to normal.And what's more, after a while he actually began to enjoy helping other people.
Next: The Piano