Tuesday, April 26, 2011

This Is The Title of This Blog

Why “The Troubled Fish”? Not too many folks inquired as to the logic of the name after my first post, possibly because I had promised an explanation at a future date. While I’m not 100 percent sure why this blog is named what it is, herewith is an attempt at an explanation.

We have had fish in an aquarium at our house for a few months now. Fish generally make very good pets, especially for youngsters, since they are relatively low maintenance. A few flakes of food each day, a good cleaning of the tank every once in a while, and your fish should grow and remain healthy until some fateful day when a) you put them up for sale on Craigslist, or b) they die and get flushed. Most of us are far more experienced at b).

Fish do not offer the usual drawbacks of furry pets, in that they will not chew up your kids’ toys or shed their adorable fur all over your house or bark at ridiculous hours of the night because they need to relieve themselves in a snowbank. Of course, you also can’t hold fish on your lap or throw a ball for them or scratch them behind their ears while they nuzzle or purr.

Maybe the best part of fish as pets is their therapeutic value. Watching fish wander around a tank can be very relaxing. A former roommate of mine had an enormous saltwater tank filled with very colorful fish. He would pull a chair up in front of the tank and simply watch his scaled friends for half an hour or more. I did this sometimes when he was not around and felt the soothing effects of watching the fish. While the fish seemed to not have a care in the world, they often appeared incredibly busy.

Were they happy? Were they distressed? Did they know enough about who they were to be either of those things? It’s the same for us dog or cat owners who walk by the sleeping animal when we leave for work, then see them in the same position when we return 9 or 10 hours later. “What a great life,” we  may mutter. The scenery is a lot more consistent (or repetitious) for the aquarium-bound fish, their routine broken only when those food flakes hit the surface.

And so it goes for many in the grown-up working world. Wake up in the same bed each morning, share breakfast with the same people around the table, drive the same car over the same roads to the same job. After 8 or 9 or more hours, hop in said car and reverse the process to wind up at dinner with the same people at the same table (unless we go out for dinner — Woo-hoo!). And are we happy? Are we distressed? Do we know enough about who we are to be sure we are either?

I would guess that, like the fish and like me, we often aren’t really sure. While there is monotony in sameness, there is also consistency and security. And every once in a while, the proverbial food flakes appear as a special treat. And we are not always sure when or if they will show up again. We’d be wise to take a cue from our scaled buddies and devour.

Who knows if those pets of ours in the tank are any more or less happy than we are. I’d like to think they are content to swim with their friends all day and that those flakes make their day. Just like I hope that all of my family, colleagues and friends are okay in whatever tank they may reside. I’m not saying I’m the one fish in the aquarium who looks out of the glass walls and wonders, “Is there more to it all than this?” because I love my tank-mates. But I think it’s worth taking a closer look at ourselves and each other to throw a few extra flakes to those troubled fish.


  1. Never much cared for fish. Kristi is sole proprietor of the fish in our place...and we have lots. I suppose I can see the serenity bit, but the thought of swimming in so much poo is disconcerting.

    Krist and I were walking the dogs at 0-dark-thirty the other day and I started thinking: it takes a ton of discipline to live the life we (and if I'm any judge of character) you are living. Marriages and family are not consistent placid pools of security - they are a rollercoaster of highs and lows. The trick, as I'm sure you already know, is who you choose to swim with.

  2. Sometimes you don't know until somebody moves to another tank...