Thursday, January 28, 2016

A fish called Johnny Weissmuller…

Call it a weak moment, the day I purchased this little blue fish.

Two years ago, I was in Petsmart, buying dog food, and there, by the cash register, were boundless stacks of plastic bowls containing Beta fish. I remember thinking it would be fun for Harper and Harris to learn, first hand, about caring for a fish.…so, I bought him.

Now, I will say when Brent and Brooke were young, our household was full of animals: 2 dogs, a cat, that delivered 9 kittens, a gerbil and a number of fish. I say a number of fish, due to the fact that their lives were always short lived. Some were found floating at the surface of their bowl, bloated and dead, due to overfeeding. The gerbil somehow managed to get hold of one fish and ate him…not a pretty site, and, on one occasion, I accidentally sucked one poor little guy up in the vacuum cleaner…why our fish always seemed to be on the floor, I don’t know. This being said, in my mind, I thought the life expectancy of this new fish would be equally short lived. Oh, was I wrong. This fish is certain to out live me.

Johnny Weissmuller-the-first, aka Tarzan, was also a gold medal Olympic swimmer, thus, I decided, an appropriate name for my new fish. The kids were delighted with Johnny…for about a week, then it was on to much more exciting things, like plastic dinosaurs and super heroes. I have tried, on more than one occasion, to suggest Brooke foster this fish, but she firmly puts her foot down, and my request is always followed by “Why on earth did you buy that thing in the first place?”

So, Johnny lives on my kitchen counter. I feed him daily, his food, nasty smelling dehydrated ground up bugs. I admit its fun to watch Mr. Weissmuller surface with his little mouth wide open gobbling up his daily meal. Johnny lives in a very small globe-like vase, now bowl, and he seems happy enough swimming small circles in his tiny surroundings. It is necessary to clean his little home several times each week. This entails having a second bowl ready, pouring the first bowl’s water into the kitchen sink through a small fish net until Johnny finally surrenders and plops into the net, thereby dumping him into the clean water bowl. This little procedure is a bit harder than one would think, and more than once Johnny has jumped out of his net and landed in the garbage disposal, where I literally have to fish him out, gag…and still he survives.  

The repeated question I hear is, “He looks so bored, why don’t you put him in a bigger bowl?”

Finally, feeling guilty, I found a larger vase, now bowl, for Johnny.  As days went by, I noticed he no longer was my active little fish making his happy laps around his little bowl. Now, Johnny spent most of his time lying at the bottom of the too large bowl, only surfacing when I shook it to make sure he wasn’t dead. Today, I moved Johnny back to his tiny home, and again, I’m finding he is back to his old happy self.

I think what I am learning from Johnny is that for right now, my bowl is perfect for me. Since Steve passed away, I have been on a quest, an almost frantic mission, to be in the larger bowl. I thought I needed to fill my days with a full calendar. I remodeled a house, moved, planned trip after trip doing my best to jump out of my small little bowl. There have been moments when I flopped myself into a big old garbage disposal, like when I purchased a 1972 Chevy pick-up that lasted 17 days. Recently, much like Dorothy in, “The Wizard of Oz” I realized, “there’s no place like home”. 

I am finding I am happiest swimming in my little bowl. I am learning, for the first time in my life, to live on my own. I’m finding how to make use of my spare time, to be one instead of a pair. I’m learning to make decisions, big and small, dumb and wise. I am finding that I’m capable in ways I never knew possible, and I’m discovering that it’s okay to fail, as long as I learn from my mistakes.

I recognize that my life is fullest when I am surrounded by family and friends. I feel most content when I can sit quietly and be still in the presence of God allowing his gentle voice to speak softly to my thoughts.

Like Johnny Weissmuller-the-second, I’ve grown weary of listlessly lying on the bottom of that too big bowl. I am discovering the joy that comes in the comfort of my own home and in the people that are willing to swim with me.

For what it’s worth,

“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people.” ― Miriam Adeney

Psalm 16:11You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

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