Aquarium

by MitchellRichards

My memory begins on the car ride home.  Swishing around in a zip lock bag in some child’s lap.  I remember that he would occasionally lift the bag and peer inside with his bright blue beady eyes looking directly at me.

My memory begins here.  No hint of existence before this very moment.  Maybe it was my youth that made me forget, or perhaps it was his eyes that woke me to life, but this was my beginning.  I remember getting carsick and then sea sick at the same time as the car swerved from side to side and the waves in the bag went up and down.

And then I remember the drop.

I remember the fall from the bag into the aquarium, that half-moment of fresh oxygen confusing my gills. The tank was pretty big for a small fish like me.  I had new friends to acquaint with and new fake caves to explore.  I would spend my days swimming figure eights and figure nines while testing the limits of the glass walls that kept me safe.  On occasion, that child with his bright blue beady eyes would come up to the glass and peer inside, just like he did when I was in the bag.

“This was where I was supposed to be.” I would think to myself, “This is it.”

Food would literally fall from the sky and I could gather leftovers from the aquarium floor.  I would swim my figure eights and figure nines and I would explore the fake caves and would make eye contact with the boy’s bright blue beady eyes.

For years I did this routine, sleeping in the safety of the caves, and basking in the knowledge of everyone’s name.  I was where I was supposed to be, I would think to myself on occasion.  I could close my eyes and swim the width of the aquarium and know just how many tail strokes it would take until I would need to turn at the very last second.  I knew the exact moment that food would fall from the sky.  I knew just when that kid’s bright blue beady eyes would peer in.

Then one day I realized I was bored.  I swam figure eights and figure nines, and I stared into that boy’s bright blue beady eyes and saw his soul.  I found shelter in the caves, but couldn’t sleep.  I swam with my eyes closed but instead of turning when I knew the wall was there, I ran right into it just so I could feel something.

I was beginning to think that this wasn’t where I was supposed to be at all.  That this wasn’t it.

Food fell from the sky and I had plenty left over, but I wouldn’t eat it.  I needed the thrill of a hunt.  And I wasn’t even sure what that meant.  I realized one day that I was made for something bigger.

I was made to swim in the ocean.

I was made to search for food.  I was made for scary animals to chase after me and try to eat me.  I was made to never have the safety of caves, but to wander and wonder along with the rest of them.  The very same them that I didn’t know.  I was made to experience the deep blue and to swim in the coral, not some photograph of the deep blue and coral taped to the backside of this aquarium.  I was made to swim in open water with eyes wide open, breathing in the fresh salt with the fresh blue.  I was made to dance on whales and swim from sharks, I was made to avoid jellyfish and approach the female versions of me.  I was made to never know everyone’s name.  I was made to swim figure eights and figure nines around continents and islands as big as the sky.  I was made to be scared.  I was made to move, to never stay still, to never feel comfortable.

Alas, I swim inside these walls.  I have no predator and I have no prey.  I swim figure eights and figure nines around fake caves and fake comrades.  I know everyone’s name.  And even though food falls from the sky…even though I know when it falls from the sky…and even though I know that there will be enough…it never is enough.

I wasn’t made for this…

I was made to swim in the ocean…

I’m not talking about fish and aquariums anymore, am I?

Just because food falls from the sky and just because you don’t have any predators chasing you – it doesn’t mean that is where you are supposed to be.

Just because you can rest, and just because you know everyone’s names – it doesn’t mean that is where you are supposed to be.

And just because you can swim figure eights and figure nines with your eyes closed around town – it doesn’t mean you are where you are supposed to be.

Go…get dirty – get chased – lose sleep – live inside the crazy waves of life – breathe in the fresh oxygen and breathe out the half-moments and the things holding you back – swim the figure eights and figure nines around continents and dreams as big as the bright blue sky above – dance – forget names – explore – never stay comfortable – hunt – get lost – swim in the ocean that God has set before you – get out of that aquarium that you have built yourself into – shatter the clear walls around your mind, shatter the glass and be free – find yourself by getting stung and hunted, hurt and betrayed, but find your rest in God’s grace – peer into this bright blue beautiful beautiful world and see its soul.

You were made for something so much more.  Something bigger than you could ever imagine.  Get out and do it.

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