Another week down with not a lot to show for it. Spent the better part of today rearranging and cleaning my living room/studio area, which is something I sometimes do to fill time when I get mentally lost. After months of feeling better, my anxiety has hit pretty hard the past week or so. No idea why, since I should really be in better spirits, having just taken care of a pretty major financial issue.
Yet something’s eating at me. I feel like I’m stuck in a fishbowl, surrounded by a bubble of glass that at first glance simply reflected my world back at me. Content in the assumption that there was nothing else, I focused on that quaint existence, working, paying bills, dreaming of a career in art or animation, never questioning the origin of the tasteless but adequate dribbles of food that drifted down from above.
But then one day, I looked at the reflection a little longer and my focus changed. No longer seeing my reflection, I saw instead a huge hazy world beyond. Now aware of this revelation, I’ve become unable to avoid noticing it every time I look. The reflection is gone, replaced by a seemingly impenetrable barrier to something bigger. My day job, which was always a necessary but tolerable burden, has started to feel more like a prison, and every day I come home mentally drained and less passionate about working toward the same dreams that I’ve struggled so long to achieve, dreams that now seem simple and inadequate. Swimming around in circles, I feel suddenly compressed, impatient, and discontent.
Years ago, I had an aquarium containing a variety of freshwater tropicals. Most just swam around, heedless that anything existed beyond their ten gallon universe. A few might come up and watch your finger if you touched the glass. But I had one little Rainbow Shark that was very different. He was the only one who’d discovered that he could squeeze into the filter uplift tubes, swimming down against the torrent of bubbles until sometimes he’d disappear below the filter for minutes or hours at a time only to pop back out later.
Eventually, he realized that the back of the tank was open and, apparently determined to see what was beyond, he’d bolt for the surface, slip the bonds of his watery world and escape. The first time, I found him on the floor and quickly returned him to the safety of the water. Weeks later, he disappeared again, and this time I didn’t find him. I assumed that he’d finally gotten stuck under the filter and would turn up one day.
He did, sort of.
One day, I was cleaning the closet near the tank. On the floor near the back lay what looked like a shriveled leaf. Scooping it up, I noticed the little red fins. The little bugger had finally done it, he’d gotten free. It had killed him, but he’d gone where no other fish in his world had gone before. I don’t know if he found what he was looking for but I had to admire his dedication.
What does this have to do with my mood of late? I really don’t know other than maybe, after all these years, I kind of understand what that little shark felt as he watched the other fish mulling about the tank, mindlessly eating the scraps sprinkled down on them, content to live out their time with no purpose beyond entertaining a ten year old human that existed so far from their reality as to be nearly incomprehensible. This was clearly not the life for him, and he chose to lose that life on the faint hope that there was something better beyond that reflection.
So I’m sitting here, mentally bashing my head against the side of the fishbowl, wondering if I have the courage to swim against the current, or to take that leap of faith if only to see what may lie beyond. I don’t want to die, of course, but I’m not sure that this is really living either. The daily grind, teetering at the edge of depression, held back only by a frail thread of medication, dreaming of bigger things but lacking the energy to pursue them, watching the world suffer and feeling helpless to prevent it. Something has to change, and it has to start in my own head. I’ve seen beyond the reflection. It’s been sobering, but also enlightening. I’ve lived in the bubble long enough. The ocean is out there somewhere and I’m going to find it, even if it kills me.
Ok, I’ve got some art to work on.
Have a great week everyone! And like Dory says, Just Keep Swimming!