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Living in a Fishbowl


By Victoria Mitchell, LCSW, RN, Agape Counseling, Ltd.

First of all, this is not a reference to a Pink Floyd favorite. The title refers to a strange yet amazing analogy that hit me yesterday as I was feeding Phish, the fish.

A little background on Phish is necessary. Phish is an amazing creature that is a Pumpkin Festival survivor, rescued from an 8-year-old who was wildly swinging his newly acquired “trophy in a bag” by my daughter at Pumpkin Fest 2009. Not only did he survive “shaken fish syndrome,” but he has outlived any P-fest fish in our family history. The prior record was approximately two weeks, then belly up and to the toilet funeral. But Phish lives on, very much a part of the family. His fishbowl is on the kitchen island. He is very social and quite the cook! Not really, but he does seem to watch me closely at the stove.

So, all of the above has very little to do with the analogy, but context is important. It has to do with the fact that I talk to Phish each day, and we are especially conversant when I am changing the water in his bowl. Approximately, once a week, his water is in need of changing. It has become cloudy, and nasty stuff is at the bottom of his “house.” So each week, we go through the routine — I get out the distilled water, pour some in a glass for Phish to vacation in while I empty his big bowl — a fish camper so to speak. I know what I am doing — I have a little place for him to stay while I get rid of the bad water, and replace it with new oxygen-rich water, so Phish will live another day of his miracle life. It is refreshing and life giving — that new water. But Phish doesn’t get it. Every time, he is totally convinced that the little fish ladle seeking him out is some wild alien form that is going to destroy him. As I “fish” him out of the bowl, he fights and fights, resisting getting caught. This last time, I said, “Phish, it is amazing that you haven’t figured out how good this is for you.” After being a little uncomfortable with my comfort at communicating with my fish, it hit me. We humans are so like Phish.

We are floating around our life, moving through the muck having no idea how contented we could be. Then, we run into a setback, an obstacle in our path, tragedy, perceived failures, and life just not going according to our great plan — we fight, we yell, we fuss, we cry, and flail. Then, all of a sudden, we are on the other side of the trial, and we discover we’re exactly where we belong — in a crystal clear refreshing life-giving environment, just where we were meant to be. Maybe if Phish and you and I didn’t fight so hard, and just let go and trusted God and the fish ladle, we would have more time to learn to appreciate this awesome life.

For more information, please contact Agape Counseling, 309-692-4433. They are a group of Christian counselors, social workers, psychologists, and support staff committed to a therapeutic process that ministers to the whole person. Their Peoria office is located at 2001 W. Willow Knolls, Suite 110. The Morton location is 75 E. Queenwood Road. They also have an office in Bloomington, IL.

Photo credit: Justin Horrocks/iStock