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Hope Forward: Surviving and Thriving through Emotional Pain: January 2016

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Fish Out of Water

My friend Julie shared with me an amazing story about her daughter's pet goldfish.  They got the fish at a carnival, and it lived well cared for in a small tank in her daughter's bedroom.  A few days ago, her daughter went over to the tank to feed the fish and could not find it.  They searched through the tank again and again.  No fish.  They stared and stared at the tank, trying to make sense of it.  Did it evaporate?  Could they not see it?  Was it under a rock?

They were just baffled beyond belief.  So focused were they on the tank, and on what they were sure they knew about fish, that it did not occur to them that fish can jump out of a tank.  They did not know this about goldfish.  And they were so focused on what they knew, or thought they knew, on what they believed to be true about fish, that they did not consider any other possibilities.

After a while they stopped staring at the tank and walked about trying to make sense of the mystery in their midst.  And the next morning as her daughter was getting out of bed in the morning something caught her eye that she had not seen the day before, on the floor, under a chair.  It was the fish.  And the fish was alive.

So I was thinking about how our minds work. And about how sometimes the harder we think about something, the more focused we are on what we think we know, the less we are able to see.

I was thinking too about how when something appears to be lost, it may be just out sight, but not far away.  And when we allow for the general knowledge that our minds don't work by forcing them, by straining them, by fighting the flow of thought that comes through them, we fare so much better.

Sometimes we have to stop looking so hard to find answers in order to experience the answer. Sometimes are so used to our thoughts and our routines and our circumstances and the people in our lives and what we believe about them, that we don't  realize that there are other options to explore, other possible thoughts, truths, ideas, insights.  Perspectives that can be relieving and life changing. The unexpected can happen, in a good way, if we are open to it.  If we are not so focused on what we think has to be, or what we are sure we know to be true, or think of as historical fact.

There's no trick really.  Just being open to the idea that just like fish will be fish and they can, actually, jump out of tanks, and live out of water for a while and be okay, that our human mind is our human mind.  Our thoughts flow through us naturally, innocently, and we have the capacity to be open to not getting so caught up in them and in believing everything we think.  When we allow thoughts to flow through our minds quiet down more easily and other ideas, insights, and perceptions can come through.  More possibilities become available and we can live more freely and with far more ease then we ever imagined.