Sunday, December 9, 2007

Swimming Sideways

My son, Brian, got himself a couple of cute little pacu fish, no bigger than a dime. I bought Brian a fourteen gallon aquarium to go with them. You could hardly see the little guys in all that water.
But then something happened... Brian fed his pacu pair. And they grew. A lot. Those darling little punctuation marks turned into candidates for deep sea fishing. They probably measured about a foot long each, but they wouldn't hold still long enough for us to make sure. One thing we were sure of was that their tank was too small. They'd flick their tails and bump their noses on the glass, then execute a tight about-face and flick their tails once to find themselves bumping noses on the opposite pane of glass.
So we got them a bigger tank. But now the question arose, how are we going to move them? They wouldn't fit in any net that our pet store had, and Brian nixed the idea of a fishing pole and bait. What to do?
Big brother Zackary came up with the solution to scoop the fish out with a plastic gallon jug. It seemed the perfect solution for everyone but the pacu's. Once Zack cornered one and scooped it into the pitcher, it thrashed and fought like a maniac. After a startled pause, Zack finally poured the fish into the larger tank, where it promptly lay on its side and flipped its tail, swimming crookedly across its new expansive home.
The fellow's friend got the same treatment and acted the same way, we don't know if it was peer pressure or what. They both swam sideways, back and forth, back and forth, for several minutes. Bored of waiting, and without any signs of synchronized swimming moves, I left the room. The next time I checked on them, the fish went spastic, swimming like the water was on fire. (Well, you know what I mean.) So I turned off the aquarium light and left them alone for awhile.
Now the two are in fish tank heaven. (No, they didn't die.) They can flip their tails at least four times before bumping into the glass wall. They're swimming straight, and they can even go up and down if they feel like playing submarine.
I think that a lot of us swim sideways when we're thrown into a new situation, even if it's for our ultimate good. It feels like we're in someplace too big, too different, too scary. But soon enough we'll gain a clearer perspective of where we really are, and realize that we can go faster and further than we ever have before.
I say, bring on the big fish!

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