Every now and then we step out of ourselves and take on an alternate persona. For me, this is akin to the person I become after a scotch on the rocks…or two…okay three! And yes, I did say scotch; though I can be a pink, frilly cocktail kinda girl too – hand me a Prosecco with berries any day –I’m a closet scotchaholic!
That aside, after a couple down the hatch, I transform – it’s a chemical thing! Now I’m not saying I’m one of those loud, obnoxious and mean drunks – ok, loud and obnoxious, never mean though! But somehow, after a few drinks I’m brassier and ever so entertaining – at least by my own interpretation. And I spend a great deal of my time trying to convince all those around that I am actually lucid; that my slurred speech and general incoherence should be no indication of my well-being.
Why fake through the situation? Why not admit that yes, I have succumbed? What am I so scared to admit?
Most of the time, I’m a pretty lighthearted, easy going (albeit somewhat complicated) extrovert. But every now and then my extroversion gives way to a very introspective, insular side of me. Call it a funk, call it the blues, call it taking stock, call it what you will…but it’s during these times when I wonder if I’m where I should be and doing what I want to do, or whether I’m just trying to keep afloat. Isn’t it better to just be grateful for the stability I already have – whether it’s the roof over my head, a steady job and income, good friends and family? True, these are all good. But I want more.
And this time, the realization came from none other than Zoom, our family’s pet betta fish. Every now and then, when it’s my turn to feed Zoom during all the chaos that ensues around me (usually at bedtime when arms and legs are flailing to get into the right arm and leg holes of pajamas, teeth are supposedly being brushed, and prayers are being said) Zoom comes to the top of his tank and waits. And I swear, he’s looking at me…trying to say something…
Perhaps it is strange to write about this fish. Perhaps I should go back and talk about the three scotch I downed this past weekend, or something more comedic like the seven year old or the three year old’s latest antics, but I swear, this fish and I are kindred spirits and here’s how I know.
Zoom came to us by way of a birthday party favour. I remember it well – it was the year all the children in my 7 year old’s class were turning five. As we were set to leave, the child’s mother handed us a plastic bag with a fish and a small baggy with food. While some would baulk at the idea and think, “Oh no! Another responsibility!!” I was delighted (perhaps even more delighted than my son!) Then, about 6 months ago, Zoom started to display some very strange behavior. He would ignore me. He would hide in his fake plant all day, or play dead with his head down and his tail suspended above him. I freaked out. And I did what any one in my situation would do: GOOGLED! I refused to be responsible for fish depression or worse yet, “fishicide.”
After ruling out fish swim bladder disorder or some other fish ailment, I did what I do best: I went shopping…to the pet store. Close to thirty design decisions later (round tank or rectangular, coloured or natural gravel, toys or plants, etc.) we moved Zoom into a larger, more professional tank, in a much busier area of the house and the result? A much happier, active and thriving betta!
Although not in words, Zoom had communicated that he was no longer happy in his original fish bowl – he’d outgrown it. And this has served as a little reminder that perhaps I too need to be honest. I too need to be courageous and face the music: Have I outgrown my fishbowl? Will I be happier in another? How will that happen? Who will move ME into a better tank?
Probably the most frustrating thing for someone as loquacious as me and with very large, grandiose (and perhaps somewhat unrealistic) dreams, is feeling invisible and not being heard. It feels unjust. Recognizing that I don’t have a plant to stick my head in and that perhaps diplomacy, humour and wit (not to mention charm and a killer smile) won’t always save one from circumstance – as I have repeatedly experienced while trying to weasel out of parking tickets, or getting out of sticky situations though it could be that perhaps I’m not as charming as I think or my smile isn’t so, well, killer – what does? What does one do when utterly frustrated, overwhelmed and fighting every instinct to bang one’s fists, throw something and just run away? And, quite frankly, how do you run away when you’re trapped in a fishbowl?
I think of my kindred spirit, Zoom. I think of how clever this little fish was in communicating his needs and, well, I’m clever too. Starting tomorrow, I’m breaking out of my fishbowl. Charm, killer smile, diplomacy and brains…I’ve got all of these in my arsenal. And who knows, perhaps I’ll lapse into a persona of courage, and before I know it, I’ll be celebrating in a dapper way with a Prosecco in one hand, and a scotch in the other. The countdown is on…this year is going to be great!