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.