Jimmy had four pet goldfish. Everyday Jimmy would watch his goldfish swim around and around the small glass bowl they lived in. One day he noticed the water in the bowl looked kind of cloudy. Mom explained to Jimmy that this was natural and that the bowl just needed to be cleaned.
Jimmy knew how to clean the bowl. He had seen his friend do it. He filled the bathtub with cool water, and then gently lowered the bowl into the tub until the four goldfish swam out of the dirty bowl and into the bathwater. Jimmy spent the next fifteen minutes scrubbing the glass bowl until it was sparkling clean. Finally it was ready.
Jimmy knelt down by the bathtub to retrieve his goldfish, but he saw a strange sight. Even though the bathtub was over four feet long and three feet wide the four goldfish were swimming round and round in a tiny circle, right where Jimmy had originally placed them. “Mom,” yelled Jimmy, “come look at the goldfish.” “Why are the fish swimming in a tiny circle when they have the whole tub?” Jimmy asked mom. Jimmy’s mom answered, “Because they don’t know they are in a tub. They think they are still at home in their tiny glass bowl. That’s what they are used to.”
We are goldfish, more often than not. We cling to the familiar. We cling to our dirty little circles because they are comfortable. Even when life presents us with an opportunity to change we often don’t. Even when life forces us to change, throwing us into a bathtub full of clean new water, we resist and maintain our cramped little circle of sameness. We cling to a past that repeats itself. We swim in our own shit.
I came to the realization that we eat our own shit by becoming aware of the cycles/routines people go through. The cycles I go through, the constant reenactment of past events with new faces.
You make yourself a nice little pie with great ingredients, or so you think. You realize that after you eat this pie it always gives you a stomachache. But although you notice the stomach ache you blame other things, like a drink or the weather. You fail to change your ingredients and just keep eating the same shit you ate the day before, giving you the same results.
It’s pretty simple that as long as you stay within the same framework of people, places, and attitudes as before it will equal the same shit. The same annoying shit. The same disappointing shit. The same everything, in brand-new gift-wrap, will show up at the doorstep of your life.
Like Jimmy’s goldfish we can be taken out of an environment and still cling to that comfort of staying tiny. I believe what makes me tiny is an attitude I cling to from my teenage years, the attitude of “cool”. Sometimes I don’t explore because I believe I already know, because I believe there is nothing interesting in certain experiences. This attitude has done nothing but act as an excuse to stay confined in my comfort zone. The comfort zone is the little circle inside the fish tank, it is what we are used to.
We have a whole bathtub. Realize it now.
I no longer think I’m cool (although we all know I'm pretty awesome). I think I rather become someone interesting and different, and I surely don’t want to swim in my own shit.
It is time to own up to your shitty pie recipe. It is time to make some pumpkin pie instead of apple pie. You are not confined. You can change, you can try a new recipe. I am still dabbling with my own recipe, maybe we can collaborate one day.
“If growth is a road you want to travel, then change is the vehicle you have to use to get from one place to another.” – Barbara De Angelis
*Jimmy story courtesy of one of my heroes, Barbara De Angelis