Sunday, September 2, 2012

Everything Deserves To Exist

Sometimes, it feels like nothing is going right.
Sometimes it seems as though you're just floating, trying to grasp onto something in order to just have something to hold on to.

I always deny that I have writer's block. In my opinion, writer's block either happens when you're A) too lazy to push yourself over that hump, or B) Too focused on getting over that hump that you end up trying to jump over it and falling flat on your face.
Writer's block, most of the time (at least for me), is some other emotion, feeling, life event, etc. that gets in the way. Don't get me wrong, it's completely fine to call these things masquerading around writer's block; it's easier to explain that way.

Lately, I've been feeling like I need to switch things up and write something new.
However, it's hard to leave the safety and security of characters and themes I've been so comfortable with and have known so well for so long.
So my writer's block came in the form of fear.
Usually, I just ignore this thing, even if it's glaring at me from the corner of my eye saying, "HEY. WRITE ME. WHAT AM I, YOU SAY? WHO KNOWS!"

And I was doing just that.

Sometimes, pieces fall right into place and resemble a picture you weren't even sure you had in your head until it's there in front of you.

That happened last weekend.

This lady came into my job at Petsmart. She bought three little fish for her tank, said something about how she likes how they stick together in the tank (they were schooling fish), and that was it. End of conversation.

Then she turned to retrieve her fish from me, stopped what she was doing, and stared past me at the bowl we have on the counter, which houses a betta fish.

"He's all by himself?" she asked.
"Yeah."
The red betta fish slowly swam up to the surface, blew a tiny bubble, then retreated back into his pink princess house.
"Why?" the lady asked.
"They have to be," I answered. "If you put two males together, they fight to the death."

I've explained this many times to many people, kids and adults alike, and no one has ever had the reaction this woman gave me.

"That's just rediculous," she said, like it was my decision to damn the fish to a life of solitude.
"Not really," I said in the nicest possible way. "They like it better that way, trust me," I attempted a joke.
She wasn't having any of that. "Something so sad shouldn't exist."

That is what she left me with.

It was a seed.
A tiny, little, almost insignificant seed.

But that seed grew into roots of why would someone think something like that?
To leaves and branches of reasons.

In the wild, betta fish live in mud puddles. Mud puddles.
They can survive in a tiny pool of water their whole lives, only mating when they have to, killing the females they don't like, then leaving the ones they impregnate, if they don't decide to stay long enough to eat the young, that is.

It was a human idea to breed these fish in captivity, the way it always is.
We can breed them to be any color, their fins any shape, yet we cannot change their behavior.

Breeders put them in plastic cups and sell them to people who want an easy fish that doesn't require much attention or cleaning, and most of their owners are happy enough to just have something pretty and alive to look at. Something pretty and alive that's different from the way things like flowers are pretty and alive.

And there is something so human in that. These fish can disguise themselves as such good pets, such beautiful, easy fish to own, yet they have this secret they keep from any person who doesn't know about their kind.

That in most situations, it would rather kill to be alone than to be with another of its own kind.

Occasionally you come across one person who is not content to simply have the betta as it is: alone and happy.
Most of the time, when you explain to them that they're happy that way, they shrug and go on their way; they accept it.
But this lady, man.
She just couldn't believe it.
She couldn't believe that something that is so utterly and totally alone will always be totally and utterly alone.

Things will never change for that betta.
He will wake up every morning alone.
He will swim in and out of his plastic princess castle alone.
He will eat his little fishy pellet dinner alone.
And  he will go to sleep every night alone.
That animal is happy this way; he doesn't want or need anything else.

But some animals do, and that lady reminded me of that.

Sometimes you get these seeds, and sometimes they only grow to a certain point; there's only so far they can go. 
But sometimes it never stops growing.
And I think I have myself one of those seeds.

1 comment:

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