Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Swim Outside the Tank

Last year for Christmas, one of the gifts I received was from my mother,  The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo.  It's a sort of inspirational book with a short story or message assigned to each day of the year.  The musings are about life, love, friendship, loss, and other human experiences.  Last night, January 9, I read the passage before going to sleep and it felt so applicable that I had to share the message.

The message, entitled "Life in the Tank," starts with a quote from St. Augustine:  "Love, and do what thou wilt."

The author tells the story of a man who needs to clean his fish tank.  In preparation, he relocates his fish temporarily to his large bathtub, and proceeds to scrub his tank.  When he's finished cleaning, he returns to retrieve the fish, and surprisingly, finds the entire group huddled in a small area just the size of their tank, even though they have so much more room available to them.

It is a powerful metaphor and the author goes on to compare these fish to himself and us all as humans.  "In what ways do we go nowhere but into ourselves?  In what ways do we shrink our world so as not to feel the press of our own self-imposed captivity?"

It's so relatable.  I think everyone imposes limits on themselves in some way, whether they realize it or not.  The message brought to mind my upcoming adventure and made me proud of myself for pushing the limits of my own fish tank.  But I have to wonder, are there other ways that I am "turning on myself, swimming safely in the middle of the tub?"

Are you?  What can you do to swim outside the tank?

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