A Sogdian tale, translated by W. B. Henning, reads like this:
"There was a big pond, and in it there were three fishes. The first fish was One-Thought, the second fish was Hundred-Thoughts, and the third fish was Thousand-Thoughts. At some time a fisherman came and cast his net. He caught those two fishes of many thoughts, but he did not catch the fish One-Thought."When I first read this, I thought that the fish described as having many thoughts were smarter fish. Why, then, was the fish with less intelligence not caught? Shouldn't it be the other way around? I'd like to propose a different perspective. What if thoughts represent concerns? Imagine that the second fish, Hundred-Thoughts, and the third fish, Thousand-Thoughts, are fish who are thinking, worrying, and analyzing so much that they aren't even aware of what's around them anymore. These fish, you might imagine, represent ourselves when we have too much on our minds and over-extend ourselves with so many obligations that it's keeping us from truly living. When the fisherman comes to catch a fish, he gets the two most anxious, busybody fish in the pond.
This means that the One-Thought fish is not a simple-minded fish, although it is a fish that lives simply. It has a full, peaceful, purposeful existence. When the fisherman arrives at the pond to catch his dinner, the One-Thought fish isn't distracted by its busy tasks. Fish, of all creatures, should let life flow.
For me, this story as a parable. The message I take away is clear. May we live life more simply and focus on the right priorities. I don't want to get so busy with worldly distractions, no matter how important they seem in the moment, that I lose sight of what is really important, such as family, kindness, education, love, honesty, faith, health, and happiness.
Henning, W.B., "Sogdian Tales," Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 11, No. 3 (1945), pp. 465-487.