I’ve been feeling run down at work. I work two part time jobs in customer service positions. Working with the general public, is 100% stressful at times! I don’t sell anything but access to free knowledge and resources, (I work for libraries), but the environment there has rapidly changed from peaceful to unpredictably loud.
Gone are the days of shushing librarians, (unless you’re in a private, academic or law library), the librarians now sing children’s songs. Kids are encouraged to play with tumbling blocks, legos, dolls etc and scream as much as their parent allows them to. It’s like a combination preschool/retirement home/computer center/hospital. Libraries are one of the last places that provides true community for the public, but the good intentions can get draining.
I’ve worked in customer service a lot. It takes a strong ability to have grace under fire as a public servant. It’s the modern way. Don’t upset the patron, no matter how rude they are, the customer is always right (especially when they’re wrong). That’s the way some folks get what they want, they Shout, write letters of complaint, they curse you and throw nearby staplers, book ends, whatever office supplies are at hand, until you the public servant, acquiesce. Then the next day the same disgruntled patron who called you an “idiot” will sometimes apologize while smiling! Yikes, guess they’re having a better day?
So for mental serenity, I bought not one but two aquariums! They’re instant mind relaxers, they bring much needed tranquility, beauty and give me something to tend to, with immediate results. It starts with ordering and unpacking the glass tanks. Yes! None of my tanks were broken in transit. Next, create new space for the tanks. Deciding where they would look best in the room, avoiding the heater/ television/electronics area and bright windows (cause algae overgrowth), all factor in.
So I spent my day off, decluttering, unpacking, envisioning and cleaning. It felt good to dust the gray black residue behind tables, bookshelves and compile things to give away. I felt tired, sneezy from dust allergies but wonderfully focused. I like designing things. When it all comes together I feel a sense of accomplishment and relief to see a tangible result from my efforts. I wish all of life was this way, sometimes the struggle just seems endless.
Today I’ll set up tank number two, it’ll be double the challenge because its 20 gallons vs 10, and it’ll be in a location farther away from the sink. Hauling pitchers of water from the kitchen sink to the aquarium tank is not fun. But when the sand eventually settles and the water flows crystal clear, when the water heater lights up correctly and the planted landscape waves beguilingly, I’m in underwater bliss.
Maybe it’s my Moon in Pisces that makes me love the look, feel and motion of water and the intricate creatures that live in those sealife worlds. Maybe I’m a mermaid that forgot how to swim, I get lost in this solid world but can’t rejoin the ocean because of my land-locked legs.
I’ve had many aquariums, and many sea creature friends. I’m at the professional amateur level of expertise. I can nurse sick fish back to life from the lopsided brink of death by Ick and have raised fish to live long, happy lives. It’s a simple skill that makes a therapeutic difference to my sanity in an insane world.
Bettas are my all time favorite type of fish because they’re very emotional and expressive. They’re like underwater dogs! Really. They will follow you along the clear wall of the tank, dancing and begging for food. They love blood worms the best. I love how their sweet eyes spot the dried, whirling morsel and their tiny mouths delicately bite and swallow. Bettas are sensitive and like humans, they’re intelligently prone to be depressed. They should never be kept in little jars, it’s a myth that they can thrive in small puddles, so they’re imprisoned in toddler-sized cups. In reality, leaving them in tiny jars is cruel. Their bodies absorb the toxins in the water, from waste, amnonia and undigested food. They need heat and space to move in order to live a quality life. Just like us.
I remember all of my aquarium babies, they might have a short life span but they continue to exist in my memory. I’ve had corys climb along my arm (sweetly grooming me) during water changes, they’re so trusting and hardworking!
I also had an amazing friendship with a fiddler crab who was probably telepathic. I bought a plant for him and he’d climb it all the way to the top, swaying with the current like a super hero. He was a star with his one small claw and one gigantic claw. Nature has an avante garde style and I love eccentricity. I bought a tiny cave house for the crab too and when he was inside, I sometimes worried that he had died. I’d search for him with my eyes and after a few minutes he’d appear as if he knew I was looking for him. He’d climb the plastic plant and wave to me with his huge claw as if to say, “I’m still here! I love you right back!” When he died I buried him in a favorite neighborhood park and cried as I put wildflowers over his miniature mound. I know he was a sea creature but I didn’t want to just throw him into the ocean and of course I wouldn’t flush my friend.
So I’m starting again with aquariums to create new life momentum. I want out of this worker drone funk. I’m going to surround myself with simplicity; find pleasure in nature and miracles in small and precious things. I’m going to distract myself with life again, taking care of creatures much smaller than myself makes me remember what it is to love. I’m introducing the world of sea life friends to my eight year old son. It feels good to teach him that caring for life outside of your own, is an act of love that heals in both directions.