The River Rock and the Fish
Would you like to take a mystical journey into a land of make believe but beware as you may discover more truth amongst the journey than the eyes can initially see. This journey holds some truth as to how I live my life and maybe it may broaden your mind, open your eyes and deepen your heart next time you are in the space of an individual who may be physically disabled. You may just start to see life and every moment in a completely different way.
So get comfortable… close your eyes… as we are leaving the real world. Drift away into this mysterious land created for you. Glimpse into a world of make believe but be careful to navigate through and around the lands of truth when you stumble on them. Keep your mind alert for metaphors folding in front of you as you journey forward because they can come to you quickly but vanish just as quickly in an instance with the package of wisdom that they bring to you. Try to hold that wisdom… to allow it to sink into your mind.
It may just change you piece by piece for ever… who knows.
So here you are in a thickly, lush forest looking intently into a pool of crystal clear water protected by an irregular ring of rocks. The massive boulders have formed a protected area from the fast moving water that would usually wash away anything in its path. There are small crevasses in the water pool for the water to escape the still pond acting like a sieve that sorts what parts of the moving water get to stay and which parts continue their journey down the stream. The fishpond location is at the bottom of a gradient with a crude pathway to the river with a dark forest all around you. The forest is so abundant with a multitude of varieties of vegetation, one could only hope to start to classify them. You feel enveloped by its hold as the forest bed urges you to stay a while in its calm and protective enclosure. It wants to share the enchantment of its timeless wonder.
You feel drawn to the darker forest floor as the sunlight is masked by the dense foliage over hanging above. The intensity of the colours grasp your attention as you lay witness to the varieties of hues in the green colour family but am also in awe of the contrasts of the red, yellow and even bright blue that act as features amongst an exquisite green back drop. The tree trunks piercing the canopy flash stripes of brown hues as they bury themselves amongst the fallen dead leaves scattered haphazardly across the forest floor where you are perched. As you squat at the pool, you take a moment to draw in this splendour of the freshness in the air and the visual parade of shades and shapes beckoning you to come closer and to understand its mysteries that lie within.
Your head is guided down into the pond of glistening water. From first glance it seemed just like the same old ordinary image captured in the sightseeing photos from the traveller who ventures into the rainforest. Holding still and allowing the pond to call you forward to the edge of the bank reveals something quite charming that could not be seen from the viewpoint of that swift glance. It was a merry little fish. A freshwater golden fish swimming happily without a thought or a worry in his mind. This merry little soul navigated his way around the reeds in his familiar pond. The pond was a gentle collection of pure water amongst a long river that cascaded through the floor of the rainforest. The fish enjoyed the security of this pond given the experiences of his life that had led him to find this gentle habitat that he now could call his home.
Day after day he happily explored amongst the reeds and rocks of his protective pond. He knew the pond like the back of his fin. One sunny morning he swam up close to an unusual rock that hung its smooth face into the coolness of the pond whilst the rocky boulder portion of this river rock protruded out onto the land. His face was gentle and smooth making it easier for the carefree fish to approach. The fish watched for hours, wanting to understand the secrets of this noble stone sitting alone in silence day after day… year after year. Wanting to understand how he could live a life of immobility and inability for change. He pondered at the thought of whether the stone ever felt bored with his existence of never changing and never getting to explore beyond this safe, consistent, habitat that had become this little fish’s home. The fish listen closely to the silence in his mind as he slowed down his swimming and suspended his body steadily in front of the face of the stone. As he allowed himself to listen deeply, he heard the voice in his mind say, “hello.”
Startled by what he thought he had heard, the little fish’s eyes widened with surprise as he wasn’t sure whether he heard the word or created it inside his head. Something in his body made him trust what he had heard as a gentle tingle trickled through his scales from head to tail.
“Hello, little friend,” the fish heard again. “You really do have a beautiful tail. I have been watching you swim by for quite some time.” The fish gasped in a sip of breath not sure in believing what he was hearing inside his little fish mind. He was thrilled that he was noticed even though he was unaware he was being observed day after day by what he thought was an inanimate object.
“Are you talking to me?” questioned the fish staring into the smooth, gentle face of the river rock. “Could I be really speaking to a stone or am I now losing my mind?”
“No, not losing your mind. It is just now your turn to see something in this world in a different way,” answered the stone in a peaceful voice.
“See something in a different way? How could a river rock possibly teach me this when your life involves no more than sitting still in the same place doing nothing year after year,” inquired the bewildered little fish.
“Well, my dear little, swishy friend… in my peaceful solitude of stillness I am able to focus my attention and really notice a lot of what goes on around here in this pond,” responded the river rock with a sense of knowingness. “Once you understand my mysteries, you too may desire the experiences that living a river rock may bring,” announced the stone calmly inviting the fish to follow him down a journey of discovery where he had never been before.
“Why would I ever wish to be a river rock?” exclaimed the fish with conviction. “You don’t move and don’t go anywhere in this world. I would be bored senseless with your life and feel frustrated being unable to wriggle and move. I am overwhelmed with sadness that this is the way that you have to live. I wish you had one day as a fish so you could experience the bliss of venturing out into the pond to see what the river has brought in for me to discover.”
“Overwhelmed with sadness? Why would you feel such a way?” inquired the peaceful stone enjoying the conversation and where it was leading.
“Well for first, you don’t have any fins. You don’t get to feel the sensation of gliding through the water as the coolness slips past your scales. Let alone the momentum of movement as you wiggle your way around the pond inspecting every crevice, every nook and cranny for some morsel of entertainment and nibbles of delight to bring joy to the day,’ announced the friendly fish with unbridled passion.
“Mmmm,” pondered the river rock, “that’s an interesting perspective I have never thought of before. Could you go on and tell me more?”
The little fish continued, “Secondly, you do not have a beautiful tail to swish and parade leaving a wake of water movement as you stir up the silt lying at the base of the pond. The creation of the flow of colours of the result of that swishing of the tail is something to be proud of. It is something for other fish to all look at and admire. It was my ability to swish this tail like I do that attracted my true love. One swish and she was captivated!”
The river rock paused to listen as the little fish continued to explain the perfect grace of his life that he would never trade to be a unchanging river rock. The little fish was pleasantly being transported back to memories of a beautiful time in his life.
“Yet, there is more,” the fish announced with affirmation, “as fish we get to build a home in protective crevasses to lay our eggs so they can hatch into baby fish for us to love and enjoy. You see when I say –us-, I mean myself and my fishy partner who lays the eggs as she is the female fish as we have two in our kind… friends for life.” A glimpse of sadness flashed over the fishes face as he thought of his river rock friend’s loneliness in solitude and in not experiencing the companionship of a life partner.
The river rock stopped still to contemplate what it would be like to be a fish where there were two of you as a team and then with the two of you, a family could be created. It was a thought he had never known, so it felt strange to understand the feeling that he was being invited to explore. He had never felt this feeling that was beginning to rise from dormancy in his stony core.
“I didn’t always live in this pond you know,” proclaimed the fish with a zealous glee in recalling the memories of a younger period in his life. I lived a life of carefree, wild adventures that only a fish could ever dream of. I travelled the river bends day after day taking the challenges of the rapids and the exhilaration of the curtain waterfalls which can be only experienced to believe. There were no cascades too challenging that wouldn’t entice me to give it a go,” the fish relived with vigor in his swishy tail as he retold his youth to the attentive river rock. “You see, I wasn’t always happy to live in this quiet, safe pond. It was an actioned packed life of thrill and entertainment that drove me forward down the rainforest riverbanks day after day. This was until I found my girlfriend fish and gave that risky, unpredictable life of adventures away,” the little fish reminisced.
The river rock sat in stillness connected to the delight on the fish’s face. He was mesmerised with the fish’s story and the thoughts and feelings that were infusing into his stony surface of tales that he had never experienced. He attended to this feeling inside as he noticed it slowly build and growing and spreading deep within his core.
“She wiggled her tail and I was hypnotised, never to desire that life a second more.” The fish demonstrated a coy look of smitten recalling the memories of a lovely time in his youth. “I stopped swimming in my tracks in her pond here and we built our life around these feeling that we began to share.” The river rock noticed a change in his face. A sadness that took over as he collected forward more memories of a time long passed. “Yet, that was a long time ago now and now my lovely fish girlfriend and our family are long gone. The passing of the seasons removed that beauty from my life so they are only distant memories to be yearned for leaving a feeling of longing in my heart.” The little fish thought for a moment whether he would prefer to be like his river rock friend and to have never felt those feeling so that then he wouldn’t be left with the empty, longing feelings as he woke up from his reminiscing to the reality that his one true love was gone. For a moment he contemplated the alternative life of never knowing that bliss… and in a second he knew he would not change a thing as it was better for him to have loved and lost and have the memories than to never have experienced those memories and feelings at all.
The river rock could feel the feelings grow as he began to connect to the life and experiences of his little fishy friend. The river rock was feeling an emotion deep to himself that had never been experienced in his entire life as a stationary stone. It was a longing that was starting to burn in his chest. A longing for something transient that had been taken away. It was such a foreign feeling for the river rock as he had never felt loss in his life before. His life had become nearly completely static and still. He found peace in this stillness and comfort in the constancy of little change. There was some change however but this rarely could be witnessed by others in the pond that surrounded him. Others would come and go with the seasons and the river rock was content with their passing in and out of his life and he accepted it to be. As a result he had grown wise that this was the cycle of his world. The perfection was in the rhythm of that ebb and flow… coming and going… forever changing.
He did change however. It was slow moving and almost non-existent through the seasons of time and very few creature lay witness to this evolution that was the changing of his face.
The river rock was not always rough and callous, with sharp protrusions to steady a rock hoppers grip. His life also had adventures, but adventures of a different type which he dreamed to share with his little fishy friend. The fish started to see images and three dimensional pictures in his mind projecting forward inside his thoughts. Pictures of a world he had never see. He swam up close to the river rocks face, suspending his body with his fins and tail staring directly in his eyes and he knew what to do. He gently closed his eyes and allowed the river rock to show him his story. He saw movement of earth and eruptions of red rivers of fire from a time and place well beyond his imaginings. The vulnerable little fish braced his tail and fins when he saw the violence and destruction taking place to his beautiful earth. He held still as he wanted to understand and to see more.
The fish started to see another image in his mind. It was an image of a rock face crumbling from the force of the wind eroding slowly over centuries. He watched on as an enormous bolder crashed violently to the side of a mountain and shattered into smaller pieces scattering randomly across the mountain side. He witnessed one large piece not finding stillness but taking direction with the pull of gravity as it made its way rolling down the mountain into the canyon below. It gained speed and momentum tearing through any plant life in its path to land shattered into multiple pieces at the floor of the rainforest where it found its stable home.
The little fish felt his jaw was open in a gasp as he realised his friend had had adventures too. He saw that he was once connected to something much bigger towering high above the trees, but now was shattered and separated from his kind left in loneliness away from his clan.
He thought to himself, “Who would ever have known such amazing happenings of this river rock? If I hadn’t stopped to pass him by he would just be another river rock on the bank as he had been to me all these years. To the fish, the rock was for years something not that interesting to look at and certainly not something that would have had an existence beyond doing nothing.”
An image appeared of a large pair of hands holding the rough rock and lifting it above the ground. He saw the rock being thrown at full force towards the river and watched as his face was crushed against the ground. This happened to not just his friend, the river rock, but to others that lived close by. They were relocated haphazardly by passers-by for no understanding to them of why.
The fish concentrated carefully as he began to feel the warm of the human hands. It was a feeling that he had never felt as a fish as he had never ventured on the land. He saw the seasons changing and the river ebb and flow as the stones were moved. He then witnessed with wonder how his protective closure was formed from the activity from that day when the humans came.
“I wouldn’t be who I am today without their intervention,” proclaimed the river rock with gratitude. Their input seemed minimal but you can see the effect of the changes on my face. Their choice of my placement became critical to who I am today. Unlike other river rocks, I was fortunate as I was placed in the caring, caressing flow of a gentle stream while a part of me was also outside on the land. So I had soothing replenishment each day but also got to bask in the sunlight and feel the warmth radiate through my body. This attracted the most interesting of critters such as lizards to bake on my back and keep good company with me. I bathed in the cool flow of the water, mesmerised by this daily swishing and washing, like it was a dream. Over time my roughness was softening. My hard, sharp pieces became smooth with the gentle buffing of this stream. The little fish felt an emotion rise inside him he had never felt. The emotion was gratitude. Gratitude for being given a life living within this wonderful stream. This little fish had never known any different, it was the water that he had always known. He had never suffered the hard elements outside the pond, so could not be grateful for what he did not know. He felt sadness for those years of passing that he had missed the splendour that was always in this stream. He felt sadness in his friend who had now passed over and who would never have seen or felt the wonder in the river rock’s dream.
“How could I have missed this beauty?” asked the little fish, “When I was swimming in it all the time.”
“Well sometimes the things that are the most precious to us are the things closest in our lives. They are the things we are immersed in so we cannot see them from that perspective,” explained the river rock.
“It is often when something is taken, that we appreciate its value as we feel the absence in where its presence once was. I value the gentle caress of this water as it has softened the rough stone that I was. I value the impact of my destruction from the rock face as it enabled me to be transported to a place so different to where I was. I would have never been able to make that journey on my own as I have no arms or legs and can only rely on the influence of other things around me to shape who I am today. So this is why I notice beauty as I sit still watching from inside the pond. It is in the stillness that I can see this remarkable beauty. It is always there, but do we ever slow down enough to actually pay attention to it. This is why I saw your magnificent tail swimming by. Your delightful tail brought a cheering feeling from deep within” spoke the river rock with wise words evaluating his life to his friend.
The fish smiled as his scales shimmered with delight to be noticed and appreciated by such a splendid creature that he had found and grown to like immensely. He knew this would be an enduring friendship. He felt his friend had given him the gift of his eyes.
Written by Katrine Elliott-Patton in collaboration with Peter Blundy