Seeking balance


It was bugging me a bit, the big empty space at the top of the aquarium. It didn’t look right. It was okay when the fish swam up there, but as there was nothing to attract them except at feeding time, most of the day it was empty. The fish stayed at the bottom, amongst the plants and seldom ventured into the mi or higher regions of the tank.

I’d done my best, as a novice fishkeeper. I’d made sure the solitary fish had company of their own kind where possible. I’d added the plants to provide cover for the more timid fish…and, replaced them when it became apparent that the plants were being eaten to provide fresh greens for all of them. I’d put in some bogwood for those fish that require it to gnaw upon. The fish seem happy and healthy and the tank looked great. Except for that empty bit.

Then the little air-breathing gouramis started dancing together, curling themselves around each other in pairs. They are, I think, too young to be mating yet, but mating pairs are evidently forming. I added the floating plants they need and noticed that, as they grew, the trailing roots added something to the appearance of the tank. It didn’t look quite so odd.

The floating plants settled in and their roots began to grow down into the water. Meanwhile one of the uneaten plants from the bottom of the tank began to grow towards the light in the hood. It was only then that it occurred to me that the tank is like a painting…and in a painting, you join earth and sky to balance the two by adding, say, a tree or a tower that breaks the horizon. Visually that brings the two together and creates harmony.

I noticed that the fish prefer that end of the tank where the shoots reach up and the roots reach down… and now it looks right. More natural, full of life…and, even though the process is just beginning, complete.

It should have been obvious what I had needed to do to make the tank look right, but I had missed it, focussing on the vague unease of emptiness instead of the solution; an unease that, had it been in myself, I would have understood.

We are not whole when we live solely on a single level. Compassion, humanity, conscience and empathy..all the finer traits of our species… do not reside at the base levels where we are little more than animals, moving through the world in an effort to survive. What makes us ‘human’ are those higher traits that grow from considered experience and from that nebulous symbol we call the heart. The more consciously we reach into our inner and deeper selves, the more we bring our own higher natures into being. And though we are rooted in earth, as we open ourselves to those higher aspects of humanity, it seems that something else, of yet another order of being, reaches down to us also.

It doesn’t matter whether that ‘something’ is seen as part of our own sub- or super-conscious mind, or as the touch of a divine hand… the results are the same and we find a wholeness in the balancing of body, mind and heart that we lack when we live through any one of them alone.

The more I observe the natural world… even those parts of it we have tamed and choose to think of as our own… the more convinced I am that all the clues to our wellbeing are right in front of our eyes, hidden in plain sight and waiting for us to see them.

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email:
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40 Responses to Seeking balance

  1. depatridge says:

    Reblogged this on Matthews' Blog and commented:
    Another good piece I thought.


  2. Bun Karyudo says:

    When I read your point about reaching up beyond our base selves to the better aspects of our nature, my first thought was of my defying my natural selfishness and sharing one of my beloved doughnuts with somebody else. It was a humorous notion, of course, because that’s the way my mind tends to work, but I still think it may have some truth to it for all that.


  3. A very deep and thoughtful post inspired by your aquarium! I like that. 🙂


  4. jenanita01 says:

    I didn’t want to be reminded of how shallow my life has become. Like the novice decorator, I have painted myself into a corner, one it would be difficult to get out of at my age. I tell myself it is too late to burn bridges and start again, and there is no guarantee I wouldn’t make another pigs ear out of it anyway… (a part of me still reaches for the sky though!)


  5. Pingback: Seeking balance — Sue Vincent – Daily Echo – NICE TRIP WORLD

  6. Bernadette says:

    Fantastic post. As the saying goes, “The teacher will appear when the student is ready”.


  7. fransiweinstein says:

    Love this post Sue. You are so right. And when you look around at all that’s happening in this world it is plain to see we have lost our balance and our body heart and soul are clearly out of sync.


  8. lyncrain says:

    Reblogged this on lyncrain and commented:
    In a world surrounded by chaos, every balance matters!


  9. The V Pub says:

    It’s amazing what thoughts can be inspired by an aquarium. Beautiful! I used to have a freshwater tank and the light was too intense for most of the fish. I then planted African water lilies, which sent up lily pads, thus creating shade for the fish below.


  10. pleasantly philosophical


  11. willowdot21 says:

    Life in a fish tank…. all human life! 🙂


  12. Excellent piece, Sue. I’d love a fish tank, so relaxing to watch, (the fish…not the tank!).


  13. Widdershins says:

    The power of observation and experimentation. 😀


  14. dgkaye says:

    Even fish need company. The aquarium makes a lovely portrait. 🙂


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