A Jumping Fish Gave Me Something to Think About…

English: Lake Halkjärvi, Somero, Finland. A sm...

A small fish jumps through the surface of the water.

Walking around the lake tonight I saw a fish jump.  A big fish.  Probably a carp.  They spend most of their time near the bottom of the lake, but occasionally find reason to rise to the surface, perhaps to test the waters, so to speak.

I thought about what the fish must think — if a fish can think — when he breaks the surface.  It must be a bit of a surprise.  And a quick and short-lived one, too.  One of those what-the-hell moments and then it is done.  So quickly I imagine that a fish doesn’t even remember it happening.  Otherwise I think they would do it more often.

Imagine if you were walking along minding your own business and you suddenly ran out of space and broke through into something else.  Maybe that happens to some people.  Honestly, doesn’t that seem to happen to some people?  They run out of space — break through, so to speak — and it is uncertain whether it is good or bad, uncertain whether they will come back or keep going.

Perhaps I am over thinking this.  Imagine the fish experience in reverse.  You walk off the edge of a dock and plunge into the water.  Fish in reverse.

I vividly remember being a young boy attending what was then euphemistically called “Swimming Lessons.”  The reality is a little guy like me, literally in over my head, feared for his life.  Every so often they would send us up the 10 foot diving board to jump just for the benefit of the experience.

“Don’t worry,” they would say.  “You will float right back to the surface.”

So off I would go, feeling myself fall like a sack of potatoes into the water which I always managed to hit with a painful slap.  Down and down I would go in a tickling foam of  bubbles which, by the way, raced toward the surface where I thought I should be.  I remember it all in great detail.  The sound of the water engulfing me (surprisingly loud and still calming), the rush of water churning, and even the taste and smell of the water.  I can’t say I didn’t like it.  And guess what…I rose to the surface.

So maybe the lifeguards sending us up the ladder to jump into the pool were on to something more than a good time.  Overcoming fear is something we all can benefit from, right?  At least in moderation.  Being afraid of jumping off a 100 cliff into a dry river bed is a good thing.  Fish don’t have to care or worry about this.

But we don’t always come back to the surface.  Ask anyone who has drowned about this.  In fact, I pulled a man from the bottom of a lake once.  He didn’t make it.

Or did he?

Paying attention to fish can make you pseudo philosophical if you’re not careful.


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