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“A fish cannot be aware of the ocean until it jumps out of the water.” Rixa White

We have two barrel-ponds in our garden, filled with oxygenating weed and waterlilies, and a solar fountain in each. As we already have a wildlife pond at ground level, home to frogs and invertebrates, we decided these ponds would be good for fish, so we bought six tiddlers and put three in each pond. It took them a while to settle in, but eventually, they began to dart through the weed or come to the surface for a nibble of their fish flakes.

Then one day, we only counted two fish in the front pond, and despite scanning avidly for the third, we couldn’t see it. As I was gazing into the depths, something caught my eye, a movement in the pot beside the pond where I’d planted a Japanese acer. There it was again – a flash of red-gold amongst the gravel. As if on its last gasp, the little fish we’d been searching for alerted us to its presence, stuck to the earth and stones. Perhaps it is too anthropocentric to say that it seemed to have an awareness that help was at hand, nonetheless, it felt that way.

Carefully, I picked the fish up and placed it in my cupped hand beneath the water. It floated upside down for quite a while, inert, as if it had expired. I began to gently swirl the water around it, hoping that some oxygen would get into its gills, all the time picking the gravel and soil from its tiny body. And then, a flutter of fins, a twitch of the tail, and the little fish righted itself and swam out of my hand and under the solar fountain, a scar across its head from eye to gill, seemingly none the worse for its near-death experience. Of course, it is now called Scarface, and has become my favourite little survivor.

But I was thinking, what was it like for that creature to be in a completely alien environment? Could it have been a dreamlike (or nightmarish) experience? After all, laying under a Japanese acer is not a common occurrence for a goldfish. And then, like ‘the hand of god’ its circumstances changed again, and it was given a second chance at life. And I wonder if we too ‘jump out of the water’ when we go into a meditative state (or perhaps even in a coma, in delirium or a near death experience) where we encounter the reality of other realms, other states of consciousness. Perhaps only by direct gnosis of transcendental states do we know that all is not as it seems in the goldfish bowl …

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Kathy Sotak
Kathy Sotak
Jun 08, 2022

Beautiful contemplation. What an ocean we live in today. I often think about that 'hand of God' that picks gravel off of me and places me safely where I will thrive. Such blessings.

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