My fish was dying – again. This would make it my third fish to die in two weeks. I grabbed the fish bowl and my coat, ran out and hailed a cab. With icky, fishy water sloshing all over my lap, I directed the cab to the Old Town Aquarium. I ran in the dark store panicking as my little fish gasped for breath.
“Help!!” I yelled out to no one in particular. “My fish is dying!”
A bohemian-looking guy sauntered over and peered into my bowl.
“This will be my third fish to die in the last two weeks”, I hollered, “I am doing something wrong. Please, please help me before I kill this one, too.”
The Pet Shop Dude cleared his throat. “Ma’am,” he said, looking directly into my eyes, “It probably will die. They all do. You know, it’s really better if you think of a fish as an insect rather than a pet.”
He stopped me cold. Those were wise words. I’ve recalled them often over the years, altering the nouns but maintaining the cloud-clearing sentiment. Talk about perspective.
Lately, I’ve been bouncing around, tormented by my soul-destroying need for approval. I have this friend that I can’t figure out. She is unpredictably open and secretive. One day we talk like great friends, the next day she’s busy and disinterested. Just when I think she’s a keeper, she distances herself.
Somehow I seem to make this all about me, and then I walk around sad and wounded. I view it as a personal failure. I’m doing something wrong. I’m killing the friendship.Then I remember the sage advice of the Pet Shop Dude and I construct a new iteration of his wise words: It’s really better if I think of friendship as a source of enjoyment rather than a source of self-esteem.
Friends make your life better; they make the road less bumpy. They are there to share in the fun and help guide through the bad, but it’s not their job to make you feel whole –that you need to do for yourself.
I force myself to think of my friend as an insect rather than a pet….and somehow, I feel better.