My apologies to Forrest Gump and his mama, but I think life may be like more than just a box of chocolates. Which, of course, is still quite a lovely simile about life and the great unexpected moments of it. However, I think that life is more like a fish tank. Now, granted, this simile came to me while I was cleaning my fish tank, but even a few days later I still think it is apropos. You see, life is a vessel which comes in various sizes and seems transparent but can be so much more. Just like a fish tank. So, drum up the voice of Tom Hanks, ala Forrest Gump, and repeat after me. “Life is like a…fish tank.” Which is short two syllables, but whatever.
If you look at just the actual item, an empty fish tank is nothing more than a vessel. Most of us think of the old stand-by, the 10 gallon rectangle, but really, a fish tank can be a whole multitude of shapes and styles. However, a fish tank is usually not confused with a fish bowl like this one. Bowl seems to equal a gold fish or a Beta swimming about, whereas a fish tank equals several fish and some equipment. (As an aside, I once saw an RT-D2 fish tank at Petco.) But I digress. The vessel is designed to create a suitable environment for the life forces it contains. And at the most simplistic levels, that is exactly what a fish tank does.
But it is more than just a container. It is also a window into the health of its contents. When your fish tank is healthy, it looks healthy. The water is crystal clear, the rocks clean, the fish happily swimming about. A healthy fish tank practically begs a person to sit there and just watch it every once in a while. Which I do. Regularly. What can I say, I like my fish.
When your fish tank isn’t healthy, even a very young child is likely to comment on the basic yuckiness of all things fish tanky. As in, “Mom, why does the fish tank look so weird?” and “How come we can’t see the fish any more?”
I was gone for a week and returned to find my fish tank an algaed mess. When I left, there were a few bits that looked like they needed some attention, but when I returned “a few bits” describes what still looked okay in the tank. And the fact that one of my previously swimming fish was now a floating fish dictated that I drop everything I was doing or planning to do and take care of the fish tank.
Which leads me to my point: life really is like a fish tank. For the most part, we don’t really think much about our lives. Or, more to the point, about whether our lives are healthy and whole until something goes wrong. For most of us, we don’t appreciate good health and good relationships until we don’t have them. And then, we are forced to drop everything and take care of the health and well-being of the tank before more life forces are lost.
The day that I did some serious fish tank repair, I happened to also have my yearly physical. Yes I was weighed and yes, I’m sure it was just as horrid of a number as it was the last time. But to be honest, I can’t remember what the scale said because the measuring device freaked me out. Two measurements later and it is official: I have lost 3/4 of an inch in height. And yes, at a whopping 5’2″ losing 3/4 of an inch isn’t something to crow about. But at my age (not quite 42), losing 3/4 of an inch is more than just a tad worrisome. I don’t know about you, but I do not want to be one of those hunched-back little old ladies. Not that there’s a single thing wrong with being a hunched-back little old lady, especially versus the alternative. It’s just that I am barely “middle aged” — I figured I had gobs of time before I had to start worrying about aging and age related stuff. Um, nope. Turns, out there is no time like the present to take better care of yourself so that one day, you get to be a little old lady (or man) hunched or unhunched.
So do yourself a favor. Go check your water level, scrub off all the icky bits and get your fish tank all sparkly clean again. Before the life force of you is lost. And in my case, I’m taking my calcium and vitamin D supplements and ramping up my weight bearing exercise. I want to make sure I stay tall enough to still kick my kiddos hineys at the stuff that counts – HORSE out in the alley.