I’m not sure I can write anything cohesive today, because my thoughts are all over the place. I woke up this morning, thinking about Goldfish, and wondering what life must be like for them. There they are, in a round bowl, or square aquarium. Sometimes alone. Other times, with other fish. And they seem okay from the outside, as they swim back and forth, or around and around. Sometimes, they slow down to stillness, other times, they race fast in circles. When the sprinkles of food break through the surface of the water, they make their way up and nibble until it is gone. Mom always said, don’t feed them too much. So I tried not to. But When it’s all done, they stare out and around, gills opening, closing, breathing, fins in fluttered motion, barely, flimsily, softly. But they are captive. They will never see the big pond, or the river, or the place where goldfish came from so many generations ago. Do they wonder? Do they dream? Do they know?
I just read a story about Marieke Vervoort. Marieke is a Belgian woman. She had become quite an athlete. She won gold and silver medals in 2012 at the London Paralympics in wheelchair racing. Marieke also took home two more medals three years ago in Rio de Janeiro.
However, she just died a couple of days ago. Death by euthanasia. In an interview with the Associated Press, she described “living with unbroken pain from an incurable, degenerative spinal disease.” The article described her unbearable life, having frequent seizures and earth-shattering pain. She talked of sleeping only 10 minutes some nights, described “severe pain that caused others to pass out just watching her.” She said the participation in sports kept her alive, by pushing that pain to the limits. At any rate, she made the decision that it was all too much and she filed for Euthanasia Papers in her native Belgium. They were granted, and she carried out her wish to end her pain, her life, at 40 years of age.
But. There she was, swimming round and round in that bowl, doing what she had to do, day by day. But in her case, she found a way out, back to the river. Or so it seems.
And I’m not sure what to say about all of this. I just finished a novel, last night, about this very thing. About the challenges we face just by being alive, because ultimately, it ends up the same for every one of us.
How much of the time are we goldfish?
Or are we somewhere out in the river. Free? Is it? Or in the river, do we just face a whole other set of challenges, like finding our own food, and the existence of bigger fish who can eat us in one gulp?
It all comes back to square one. A little sad, but a little happy too. The fact is, there are no guarantees. The Universe never said it had to play nice. We are in the bowl. Albeit, most of the time, if we look, we can see that it is extremely nice and good. We just continue to swim, as we always have, and there’s a nice bit of sun coming through the window over there. And soon, the food flakes will rain down, and we’ll fill our bellies, and take a fish nap. And yes. It all seems all right, and good.
“The trouble is if you don’t spend your life yourself, other people spend it for you.”
― Peter Shaffer, Five Finger Exercise
“Certain things in life simply have to be experienced -and never explained. Love is such a thing.”
― Paulo Coelho, Maktub
“It is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else’s life with perfection.”
― Anonymous, The Bhagavad Gita