Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Mind of Madness Meets the Fish of Gratitude

The foot of my guide, friend of racoons, in mud.

The fish put on a show for us long before the amazing part started. Nancy was taking me on a tour of all her hideouts and hangouts along the creek, introducing me first to the world’s greatest toe-squishing mud and then to a log in the middle of the stream along a sort of fish race track – a shallow channel through which the fish would skid along the mud on their bellies with most of their bodies out of the water and their dorsal fins unfurled like sails. We had to sit still on the log for a long time for the fish to get over their stage-fright. Two of them flipped right through our legs, which gave me a case of fish-fright. I shrieked, to the delight of Nancy.

(As you saw yesterday, normally I don’t suffer from fish fright, but sudden and unexpectedness slime-contact can catch one off guard, eliciting shrieks from the most composed among us. Never mind. As adults, we'd best be terrified at every opportunity when in the vicinity of children. It’s our job.)

Eventually it was time to wade on. Nancy asked which way I’d rather go. I felt drawn to follow the stream in the direction of its flow – the direction in which I’d released the trapped fish the day before.

When I noticed the considerable urgency of this pull inside me, I asked my Self, “What?! What do you want, oh Self?” and my Self said, “I want to wade in the stream, and come across the fish I rescued, which I’ll recognize by the patterns of missing scale patches on its body. I’ll be standing there in the water and the fish will swim up to me and bump its nibbly lips on the skin of my legs, the way minnows do [except remember that this is no minnow but a hefty carp] and I will interpret these as kisses of gratitude. Then the fish will slap its tail on the water, turn a few somersaults and skid on the mud in circles around me – which I will interpret to mean “Hey. I’ve been waiting for you. Y’know yesterday? I’ve been waiting to say ‘Thanks for saving my life.’ Really. I mean it.”

To which I’ll answer, “You’re welcome. I’m glad I could be of assistance.”

“And by the way,” the fish will add, skidding down a corridor of shallow mud on its belly. “In exchange for saving my life, you will be granted certain special privileges.”

“Really? Like what?” I would then ask. But at that moment the fish would disappear down the stream.

So that’s what my True Self admitted to me, in the privacy of my freaking mind as I followed my niece as she skipped through the brambles like a monkey and I hurtled through the brambles after her like a spooked cow.

Like always, life gets in the way of my finishing the story just as I approach the most intriguing part. So I’ll have to continue this later. Meanwhile, here's a picture of my niece on a log, waiting for me to catch up with her.


At 7:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate to be a downer, but I'm missing your bicycle stories.


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