Today has been really strange from me. I’m cut off from my drug of choice [and I should specify – for legal reasons – the said drug is completely safe, organic, and mostly legal. Also, he’s a guy.] so I’m feeling a little angsty. I started the day beautifully with a session of zumba at 4.00 a.m. But then work got hectic and I found myself craving fries. At 11.00 a.m. I completely lost it.
I strolled to the nearby Shell, ordered a Fanta, fries, two sausages … and salad. I sat back, relaxed, and watched CNN. Then I walked back to work, pretending that I felt all better. After all, I’d cleared my head, got some air, and had some comfort food, so on a logical level, I should feel better. Except I didn’t, and this is what my drug would call a self inflicted problem. I idly wondered if I’d get into trouble, and how many calories I’d consumed. I still have no clue on the calories, but as for getting in trouble, nobody noticed I was missing, and my pen came back, so yay!
Anyway, I did a collabo with a workmate and we got some work done. Then I decided to indulge myself and watch the fishies. Two colleagues have complained that I always look serious these days, and another one said I look confused, so I figured nobody would ask any questions if I stared at the fish for while. Still, to be on the safe side, I took my phone out and pretended to play with it. I also occasionally glanced at the TV. But mostly, I was watching the fish.
I suppose I should explain something … I like fish. Not just fish on a plate or in breadcrumbs. I also like fish in a bowl, or a tank, and dolphins. I love dolphins. I don’t much care for whales though, because they could squish me like a bug. And sharks are only cool when Samuel L Jackson is involved.
Back to the point, I love fish. My first real gift to myself – after the iPod and the Ideos – is a fish tank. The reason I like fish is they remind me of myself. I did this test once where you come up with your three favourite animals, and the third one is a soulful description of you. My third was a goldfish, and I had this whole story of how they live in a fragile world, that all the scary evil stuff is blocked outside, that as long as they’re inside, they have everything they need. But they have to depend on the person that takes care of the tank, and one day, he could decide he no longer wants to take care of them. Or worse, some whacko with a sledge hammer could march in and end it all.
I talked about how they’re fine in their little world, confined within the glass. The world pities them because they’re stuck in there, they don’t know there’s a whole wide world outside. But the fishies don’t feel like they’re missing out because they can see and experience everything just by looking through glass. And they know – or maybe they don’t – that if they dared to do anything more than look, they would die.
I suppose in some ways, staring at the fish is like looking in the mirror. I watch the fishies standing still, moving, feeding. I like when they float backwards, and I wonder if they know where they’re going, or if they want to go outside. I wonder if they miss the endless ocean, or if they like being in that tank.
I wonder if they realize that their whole existence is for someone else’s amusement. I feel like that sometimes – like my life is about everyone else – helping them, serving them, making sure their feelings aren’t hurt. And once in a while, I engage my bitch-switch and cross them off my list. It’s never planned or deliberate – it just happens.
Even today, when all I wanted to do was plunk in an easy chair and stare at the fish, I worried about my workmates. I wondered what they’d think if they saw me sitting there, and whether they’d doubt my sanity and worry for their safety. A few of them walked by and threw me searching glances. Others came and struck up conversation. But really, I just wanted to see the fish. I sat there for a while, ten, maybe 15 minutes. Then I realized I could sit there all day, and I’d lost lunch at 11, so I went back to my desk.
Still, as I was watching the fish, a strange thing happened. I found that I felt sorry for them. I felt like even if they wanted to get out of the glass box, they couldn’t because they were trapped, and if they left without the guidance of a tank supervisor [with a bucket and a polythene bag] they would die. I’ve never thought that way before. I’ve never felt pity for myself.
I’m not really sure where this is coming from. My favourite drug is missing, so these could simply be withdrawal symptoms. It could be because I’ve been watching a particular girl, and hating her, and wishing I was more like her, yet people who know us think we’re exactly a like. It could be because I woke up at 4 and this day feel two weeks long. Or it could be because I feel guilty for having those fries and breaking my diet.
Whatever the reason is, when I watched the fish, I felt sad, and I think I know why. I was talking with my favourite drug, and he said something interesting. I was whining – as I usually do – and he said I spend a lot on negative energy, and I should simply turn things around. I said I was afraid to change my view, because if I did, I would no longer be me. Then he asked two questions – if I change my view, what makes me think I’ll no longer be me? And in the end, would I rather be constant or happy? Of course I said I wanted to be happy. But does being happy mean I’m no longer me? And if it does … is that so bad?
So here I am, sadly staring at the fishies, and seeing that I want to leave this clear glass shell, but I’m afraid that if I do, I’ll die. If I do survive, I’ll no longer be a fish. I’ll be some strange, amphibious toad-like creature with gills, lungs, and maybe gold scales. And I’d probably be really, really happy … but for me … random happiness is an extremely confusing emotion. Hopefully, at some point in this analogy, it will hit me that I’m not actually a fish.