It all began so innocently

November 24, 2007

Author’s note: I wrote this a while back trying to put down some of what I was going through that has since been resolved. I post it here so that you all can come in to my world a little deeper and realize that for all the love that Jon and I share, it’s nowhere near perfect, and not only is it not easy, sometimes it’s damn hard. We all have our paths. I believe that now more than ever. When we begin these journeys, I am convinced that if we knew where they would take us, many of us wouldn’t have the courage to begin, including me. But thank God for that ignorance. Without it, hundreds of thousands of good things never would have come about. I believe that, too.


There are times in life when if we knew where the road would take us or had the faith to trust our friends that we wouldn’t end up in the messes we create. This is not one of those times.

A little over a year ago, Jon thoughtfully purchased an aquarium for me on my birthday because my poor fish was swimming around in a bucket for half the month. (I’d change the water in the fishbowl and put him into the bucket for safekeeping and then leave him there, because, hell, isn’t that just easier? It’s more water than was in his fishbowl, I rationalized. I do that. I’m a justifier.)


So I put Mr. Fish (whose name escapes me at the moment) in the tank and look! There he is swimming around. I think he was happy in his new digs, but I also thought he must be horribly lonely — more of my own particular brand and blend of crazy coming out.


So I bought more fish.


Looking at this photo, I am shocked! Were they ever that small? The guy at the pet store warned me not to put four fish in a 7-gallon tank, but do you think that he could have told me that was because the bottom one was going to grow to be the size of a potato? He literally takes up a third of the tank when he’s floating in the middle.

I’m afraid that I’m going to have to buy him a bigger tank. Or flush him. But he’s pretty much too big to be flushed now and the pet store doesn’t want him back and I can’t, in good conscience, put him outside in the pond knowing that he won’t survive the winter. What’s a girl to do? (As if I didn’t have enough to worry about already.)

Last night, after an emotional conversation with Jon, I noticed that the fish who is second from the top in the above picture (the only one left, unfortunately, besides Jaws, as Big Man has come to be named) — he was lodged in the plastic plant.

What the hell, I thought, and I started crying some more, which really worried Smokey and he was trying to climb me to lick my tears off. Good boy.

I thought he (Little Fish) was dead and then realized that he wasn’t; his little fish lips were still moving.

“God dammit, Jon,” I cried in frustration. “It’s like that Chinese energy thing. One of our fish is dying now to absorb the negative energy.”

He came over and put his arms around me. I cried a little more.

Then he looked at the fish — the little one, not the potato-sized one.

“He’s missing his tail,” he said. “And a bunch of his top. The big one’s been eating him.”

“What?!” I started crying all over again.

So I ran and got the bucket, filled it with water, fishbowl salt and the drops that are supposed to dechlorinate the water. I was afraid to put him in before the 20-minute waiting period was up for fear of killing him with cold water, but I also didn’t want him to keep being lunch for the now appropriately-named Jaws.

Jon said he would take care of it.

I was grateful and went to bed.

This morning when I was leaving for work I checked on Little Fish, and he’s not doing so well. He’s missing really big chucks of him, and I’m scared that he won’t be there when I get home tonight.

But then I think, why am I crying over a fish?

And then I realize that I’m not. And that’s even harder.

So I’m breathing today and trying to honor the sanctity of what Jon’s soul is saying and what my soul is saying.

I grew up in fog, so I’m used to driving through it without fear. I knew the roads. These roads I don’t know very well, but I’m trying to implement all I have learned in the last 10 years and really, truly put it into practice.



Know that you are loved.

Because at the end of the day, not a one of us is promised tomorrow, not even — or perhaps, especially — Little Fish.



  1. I can only say that it’s hard to relax when you are being eaten alive. But maybe that’s just where I am right now.

    Ah, I’ll come back to this, I promise.

  2. I think it’s healthy to get a visceral reminder of how close we skate to the edge of personal comfort — not to mention being alive — at all times.

    Just a few days ago, I was driving at about 60 mph on a two-lane highway when I took my eyes off the road for three or four seconds to fumble for a NutriGrain bar on the floor of my car’s passenger seat. I looked up just in time to see that a) my car was drifting over the white fog line; and b) a stopped car was filling the view from my windshield at an alarmingly fast rate. I swerved back into my lane in time, but it was clear that had I fumbled for as much as two seconds more, I would have plowed into the rear of this stopped car at high speed and been instantly killed.

    Since then, I’ve been walking around in a bit of a fog, reliving the moment over and over in my head and wondering if it was a wake-up call of some sort … to maybe stop taking my eyes off the road of my life and allowing myself to be distracted by things that don’t matter.

    Even if it isn’t anything of the sort, maybe it’s better if I choose for it to be a wake-up call anyway.

  3. Wow. You are awesome.

  4. So often, I have found that animals are symbolic of issues in my own life.

    Sending good thoughts and warm hugs to you.

  5. CS ~ So true. So true. Isn’t that what Pema is talking about, though? To relax into it? (At least into the fear anyway — I think it was probably damn smart of little fish to make for the refuge of the plastic plant.)

    Jim ~ Wow. I’m glad you’re okay! So frightening, and yes, such a good reminder to not only be careful on the road (which I know I’m not as careful as I should be) and also to use it as a tool in your life the way you mention. I think that if you *choose* it to be a wake-up call, that it is.

    ACG ~ Awwww, you are too sweet to me. I certainly didn’t *feel* awesome. I can tell you that for nothing. I felt like throwing up. But, again, maybe that’s the point: to realize that life is filled with ups and downs and just to keep breathing through the downs.

    Heart ~ I really do believe in the idea that fish absorb our negative energy. I’ve been losing A LOT lately!!! Damn! I remember reading that we shouldn’t be sad when fish die (because I get terribly sad) — that they have served their purpose by removing the negative energy from the home. In this particular instance, it was true: there was negative energy floating around, and it was resolved. I’m sorry that I lost a fish but am grateful for its fish soul and any role it may have played in cleansing my house. Thanks for your good wishes. This blended family stuff is hard sometimes — but as CS so astutely pointed out a while ago, *all* families have issues and struggles, and I know that it wouldn’t be perfect even if we weren’t dealing with the extra stuff that we deal with. In the end, it’s all good.

  6. whoa, you must be in serious pain to compare yourself to a fish being eaten alive by a hunkering huge fatbellied Jaws. Terrifying. I hope what ever is going on for you, someone takes your real life Jaws and puts him in the pond, winter or not.

    I’d never heard that fish absorb our negative energy. I may have to invest in some fish and a tank. But that bucket seemed to work just fine too.

  7. I just remembered that I did a post once about coming home and discovering that the fish who had appeared to be the bully in the tank was being slowly killed by his mate. I even posted video of him swimming around when he was still in his prime. I had the saem osrt of thought about how tenous our grip on life is, how power changes. And there is another theme here about how things can take different paths than we’re expecting, become bigger and more commplicated than we would ahve imagined. I am like Heart, above, I often see animals as metaphors. For that matter, I often see MOST things as metaphors!

  8. Pool ~ It was rough that night. I won’t lie. Fish are considered to be good feng shui. That’s why when you walk into some businesses, you’ll see a big ol’ tank on the right as you walk in. Watch for it.

    CS ~ I remember that post and really likened our situations at the time. I LOVE that you see most things as metaphors. I do, too, which I’m sure is why I gravitated towards English and mythology. The shifting of power was one metaphor I hadn’t found in the story yet, but yes, now that Jaws has tried to take out the NEW fish I just bought, I realize that he’s just a killer, whether he wants to be or not. (And I was told that goldfish were docile and non-predatory!)

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