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The Vacuum in the Fish Tank

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At any given moment, one doesn’t know if something will happen. Often a seemingly meaningless event will spark thoughts worth pondering over. One of those moments for me was two nights ago when I cleaned out my fish tank.


I pumped out half of the water and used a vacuum to suck up debris from the bottom of the tank, while the tiny goldfish continued to swim in the little water that was left in there.


Right then, a thought crossed my mind—what could the fish be thinking in that moment? Certainly, he had no idea of what I was doing, and all it was aware of was the tube moving around the tank and sucking up gravel. Every time it moved, the fish swam away quickly, as if the tube was an underwater monster ready to swallow it in one bite.


All along, the fish was never in danger. In fact, what was happening was for its greater good. Yet it was scared, and had no idea of its best interest being met.


In the greater scheme of things, we humans behave similarly when faced with situations we don’t comprehend the hidden value of. We run around in circles, scared and confused, afraid for our well-being and survival, without pausing a moment to see the bigger picture. Some events are the catalyst for increased awareness and needed change, yet, it is hard for us to see or accept that.


With the recent fall of our economy, many are fearful for their present and future, and feel as if they are standing at the edge of a precipice, stable enough to survive in the moment but at the mercy of unknown events that might cause them to lose their balance and fall.


Yet, through some of this hardship, families and communities are coming together, and individuals are once again discovering the hidden treasures of family unity and human compassion. The hidden gains could also be of different quality altogether—maybe someone needs to learn humility, human compassion; needs to know he or she is able to take charge of life and be creative in regard to survival, or simply needs to recharge a weakened faith in a higher power.


Regardless of the fact that we may or may not understand the reasons behind some of the events unfolding in our lives, those reasons exist nonetheless, and those experiences are not placed in our lives by chance. Most important is to realize that we will not be harmed, but will instead draw benefits from them in the end. One lady I know was laid off, and has decided to go back to school. Although right now she is going through hard times because of her unemployment, a few years down the road she will be happy of the decision she made. Had she not been laid off, she might have never taken the chance to leave a good job to pursue more education, and consequently would have given up the opportunity of having a better job for the future.


Ultimately, we are no different from the tiny goldfish—we fear and struggle, and are only able to see what’s happening beside the vacuum, when if we could instead see the full picture we would know that the tank is just being cleaned out.

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