I remember when I was a kid. The best Christmas present I ever received was an empty aquarium. A few days later, it was filled with water and three goldfish.
Far from being a boring type of pet, I reveled and marveled at these goldfish, swimming freely in the water. I named all three fish, with names as unoriginal as “Goldie.” Whatever the others were named, I don’t recall. But I remember… fabricating and fancying relationships between the fish. This one chases that one, this one nibbles at the surface of the water, and always, little stringy trails of… poop.
Food for the imagination.
And my favorite fish was a black moor, also a type of goldfish. An adorable creature I named “Blackie.” Blackie had personality. He… I assumed it was a “he…” he would dance in the bubbles from the filter with perceived glee. Other fish would follow, only to find discomfort in the bubbles. Blackie was not normal though. He was a daredevil. Living on the edge. A rebel. A leader. A trailblazer.
Sadly, he died about two weeks after I got him. He is the single pet I have cried most over. All at the tender age of seven.
I speak pretty comically here. But I do so to illustrate a point: fish, swimming… it is more than we perceive.
Imagine. Fish live in liquid, through which they are able to swim. But fish do not think they are swimming… do they? They do not know the air we breathe. They only know the water. Water to them, is a bit like air to us. Except…
Fish can fly through the “air” they breathe.
What a claim to boast! I wish I could fly through what I breathe.
With fish… the water is something they can push against. It is solid form. And they know how to harness it. It is instinct of course.
We deem ourselves so evolved, yet we cannot achieve what fish can in their water.
To me… the instance when I feel most as if I am in an “aquarium,” filled with solid form that I breathe and understand, as fish understand water… is when I listen to music.
Music. Especially classical music. Classical music has many layers, differing and competing, one over the other, in patterns that weave and diverge. During sublime moments, I fancy myself a fish, surrounded by pregnant air… music, swirling around me, taking on not only an intangible sonic quality, but actual, solid form.
It is an exercise of the imagination.
And yet… this same part of my brain that I exercise, in order to experience the physical form of music… it is the same part of my brain that fancies alternate realities. Psychosis. Delusion. Magical thinking. Grandiosity. Self-importance, all in the effort to…make meaning of my life when there is none to speak of.
Disabled. Borderline obese. Unemployed. A graduate school drop-out, twice over. There is no way to live an epic, exciting life, unless you make it up in your head. And then, even if you are happy or satisfied with your made-up, compelling reality… you are pegged as insane. But in some ways, insanity is the only thing that can make one not look at him/herself as a failure.
I am incredibly lucky. After nearly 27 years of sickness… I am through the tunnel. Perhaps the tunnel was a birth canal. But who birthed me? And why was the tunnel such that it was lined with needles, poking me every time I made a wrong turn?
What a cruel mother.
The aquarium speaks. The way I used to experience psychosis, was that the air, or the aura, around inanimate objects would tell me frightening messages. And now? Medicine has morphed those messages into something else: intuition.
The aquarium speaks. You are in it. Listen to it.