Saturday, November 22, 2014

the gold fish bowl...

And then the day came,
when the risk
to remain tight,
in a bud
was more painful
then the risk                                                                                                
it took
to Blossom.  Anais Nin

A piece of research, I read recently, observed what would happen if gold fish were taken from their bowl and put in a large bath tub. One would assume they would make a dash to splash and play in the larger body of water. They did not. They remained swimming within the confines of their non- existent fish bowl -- their environment.

I create my own fish bowl and it becomes my mini-universe. My inner environment, beliefs, thoughts and perceptions limit my swimming range. A few centuries ago my ancestors thought the earth was square. And what a fish bowl that created -- no sailing into unknown waters. Then, only a few decades ago I considered my body solid, skin was skin, bone-bone and the cat was a cat. I also thought the end of the world was limited to my five senses. Now Einstein tells us it is all an illusion be it a convincing one. Science is proving (which the shamans, Buddhist monks and mystics have known for eons) that it is a multi-dimensional world with parallel realities. And the breaker of limits is: I am 99.9 percent energy with essentially no solidity other than the one who thinks there is sitting here typing. So my fish bowl is having a hard time telling me the earth is square, that reality ends at my limited perceptions.

My outside environment can easily be confined by habit, routines and old patterns. They make great fish fodder. These well-worn pathways are useful, dependable and offer me comfort and security. They are familiar, like family to me. Yet habit and routine done long enough become mindless and automatic, taking life rather then giving it, dulling heart-eyes, zip, zing and spirit. They build up an energy field which I can easily mistake for essence or reality rather than a tool to make life easier. I create them then get trapped which I suspect keeps me from an ocean of life or, at least, a bathtub full of living that I have yet to splash and play in.

What gives me fresh, new aliveness, what dulls it? What takes the shine off my days, my minutes? What keeps me from a big swim in the whole tub? Where am I stuck? Picking up my self-evaluation spy-glass I need some distance, be it geography or head space. When the children were smaller I went to Toronto every five or six weeks for committee work.  It was a different positioning being out of the comfortable, the habitual activity. For a few days, periodically, I lived outside the fish bowl. I was not a mother or wife as much as I loved being both. Distance gave me a new ledge from which to check out what gave us life and what took it away. Tucson gives me the same opportunity -- space, distance, and detachment which does challenge Nova Scotia routines.

Yet, I don't have to go far for the same opportunity, I just have to go different.  The smallest choice, one simple step can result in a meaningful ocean-swim. After writing here at the desk for a spell, I can so easily click on the TV and "numb out" convincing myself, I am just relaxing. Again, good fodder. However, remembering that TV is not exactly a source of fun and laughter, I head outdoors. "It doesn't take much to do a lot" or to swim in fresh water.

Stepping out the front door, I hear a little voice from next door calling, "Gusta".  I've been spotted. And here he comes heading my way, arms extended until they wrap my knees. So much life just delivered itself at my feet. I can hardly see his face for the red hat hauled down to his nose. Two-year old language is hard for me but he definitely has a story to tell and if I could understand, I know it is about the most exciting happening. No fish bowl here, just innocence, fresh eagerness, a child's aliveness and now, mine.

And isn't it at the edges of living, where we are energized, where the "ah ha's" happen, where we are surprised again by this magical, mystical place that invites us to swim beyond out-dated beliefs and old habits. Here, we can splash and play in the rest of the tub, in a new freedom. A place where cattails talk back and a two year old, knowing no limits, has the most exciting story to tell?

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