Years ago, a little fish in a tiny aquarium taught me one of the most valuable lessons I have ever learned in life.
No, it wasn’t Nemo. It was just a fish. A tiny little thing whose short life is condemned to be spent in a tiny aquarium for the entertainment of humanity. I don’t even know what kind of fish it was. We weren’t the best of pals. I spent my time ignoring Ms. Fishy and Ms. Fishy spent her time exploring her tinny tiny world.
A little background:
I didn’t own that fish nor the aquarium. My little cousin was their proud owner. I went home one day and found that little aquarium perched in one of the shelves. At first there were three, then, fish A and B died of causes I can’t remember. So, Ms Fishy inherited the aquarium and lived in peace for about a month.
Then, disaster struck. For reasons I couldn’t fathom, my cousin decided to introduce a turtle into this little aquarium. Mr Torty seemed harmless enough. For weeks both him and Ms Fishy lived in peace. Well, that’s what I thought. I don’t talk turtle or fish so I can’t really be sure. The silently swam and explored their tiny world without an instance of violence.
One night, I was brushing my hair when I noticed a slight commotion inside the aquarium. I sat in front of this tiny thing and saw something really funny. I didn’t know that would be the last time i’ll be seeing Ms. Fishy.
Observing the aquarium, I noticed Ms Fishy picking a pebble with its mouth and swimming straight to the glass. In my opinion, she was desperately trying to break the glass. She repeated it over and over. Meanwhile, Mr Torty was silently gliding in the background. I sat there amused, wondering what possessed this creature to attempt something akin to prison break.
The next morning, I saw Ms Fishy again swimming wildly inside the aquarium, this time she has Mr Torty following her closely. In that tiny aquarium, I can only imagine this was their version of a car chase. I don’t talk fish and I know a fish is not a sentient being but in that few precious seconds, I saw desperation. She was fleeing for her life.
What I thought was amusing turned into horror when I saw Mr Torty opened its mouth and in one gulp, swallowed Ms Fishy whole. Just like that, she was gone. Fins and all. I don’t know if I’m going to laugh or cry.
Fastforward to the present:
Years after witnessing that gruesome murder of Ms Fishy, I still find myself thinking of that fateful day. Unconsciously, this seemingly unremarkable event has affected me. It was only recently that I realized that implications of that tragic day.
I realized that sometimes we dismiss people as stupid or idiotic based on their actions that doesn’t make any sense to us. We think they’re funny but sometimes we don’t realize that they may just be desperate. We don’t know the stories behind their actions and yet we are so quick to call them idiots. Perhaps they are. But perhaps they just don’t know what else to do.
This incident taught me to be openminded. It taught me to put myself in another person’s shoe before I judge them. It taught me that it is important to know the story behind the action, to see all sides of the story before deciding to judge someone.
Sometimes, probably unconsciously, we’re also like fishes desperately banging at the proverbial glass trying to break free. Some people judge us and find our actions irrational or insane without really knowing the depths of our desperation. They see us swim peacefully with the current but they don’t see the true meanings of our actions. Things are not always what they seem.
I know I’ll keep the memory of that day forever. Afterall, that little fish gave up her life to teach me that lesson.