Thursday, October 28, 2010

What's So Good About Being a Fish, Anyway?

During my time a tattoo artist, I had plenty of people come into the shop asking for Koi Fish tattoos. Yes, when done correctly they are beautiful pieces, but the more people came in, the more I tested them. What's the symbolism behind the Koi tattoo? What does it represent? What does it mean to you? I wasn't being a bitch, per say, but I wanted to know what it was about the koi that was special to this person- it helped me draw them a custom one, too. I wanted to know they hadn't just seen a pretty picture on the internet and wanted it tattooed on them; I wanted it to mean something. Most people knew about the koi that wanted one tattooed, some of them I had to educate. To break it down, when swimming 'down', the koi represents that there are still hardships for the person to face. When swimming 'up', the hardships and difficulties have been overcome, so the koi represents strength, perseverance and bravery. Beautiful symbolism, which can be conveyed in a beautiful manner.

The Chinese legend states that the koi fish swam upstream, even jumped up waterfalls, and when it got to the end of its destination, was transformed into a Dragon as a reward for its perseverance.

Kinda sounds like a salmon, doesn't it? I mean, I don't mean to disrespect and ancient Chinese symbol of strength, but hear me out on this one. The salmon starts out in a stream or river, swims all the way out to the ocean, where its body adapts to the saltwater. It spends a few years playing around in the ocean, and when it fully matures, makes that journey upstream to where it was born, adapting back to freshwater, where it will spawn and die.

Hold on. Spawn and die? And this is supposed to be a beautiful, encouraging thing, that the salmon swims upstream to do so? Not only that, but the salmon decides not to do this until it's older?

I'm sorry, but based on my life story thus far, I'm throwing the bull**it flag on the koi and the salmon. Bold move, I know, but try to follow me on this one.....

The Universe likes order. I don't exactly have a Wikipedia article to cite to validate that or anything, but it's kinda a fact. Everyone likes order, come to think of it, so why would the Universe be different? And, physics has taught us about the Path of Least Resistance- proven in nature by gravity, electrical paths and connections, and even storms. So if the Universe is going to try and make order of all the chaos in the world, it's going to take the path of least resistance, so you know, it's not pulling in overtime and can be home at night for dinner with the family. I don't think the Universe (or, if you are a religious person, God) is out to make our lives as individuals difficult. So, if you are constantly being hit with obstacles, or struggles to over come- maybe they are being put infront of you to make you stop heading down that path or at least slow down. Maybe they are the Universe's big ol' flashing neon signs.

Ever see those people who, it seems like, everything always goes right for them, no matter what they do? And then there's those people who seem like every step they take is the wrong one?

I swear this all ties together, just hold on a sec.....

Back in the day, I had it all- a wonderful husband, two beautiful kids, a successful business, friends, I was in touch with myself, my spirituality, I helped others find their 'path' in life, money was fine- things were good. But, like everyone, I had some inner demons. They talked and talked, and grew louder and louder, so one day I decided I needed to do everything myself- I needed to be 'me' (because, for some reason, I felt the successful 'me' wasn't enough). So, I walked away from my marriage, became a part-time mom, full-time business woman, a very selfish person. My store closed down within a year, I struggled to pay my bills, my personal relationships-especially with men- were one excruciating wound after another, I lost friends, turned my back on my spirituality, my kids became unruly at school, and my health plummeted. But, every obstacle placed in front of me, every wall constructed in my path, I decided to overcome, at whatever cost- be the koi, the salmon (I'm a bit stubborn- you picking up on that?). I was going to be happy, I was going to do what I want, I was going to be 'me'. Each step I took, I became further and further from the 'me' I wanted to be, and as the body count around me rose (including myself- I sacrificed myself more than anything- I must be a cat with 9 lives), I finally had to stop and really look. What was I doing? And what would it take for me to stop?

So, I spread my arms out, closed my eyes, and just fell into that river that I was spending so much time trying to swim upstream. The river carried me down for a while, way down. But, the more I just let go to see where the current took me, instead of fighting it, the more little brooks I ventured down, the more beautiful scenery I took in, the more I opened my eyes. I started to find myself again- the awesome person I used to be, that is- I reconnected with my kids, and eventually, that river led me straight to my husband, and an opportunity for a fresh start.

Since letting go and going with the flow of the river, I've smiled a lot more, been at peace a lot more, fallen back in love with the wonderful man and life I had before, and have had little amazing signs that I'm finally on my right path- the path of least resistance to my success. Don't get me wrong, it's not been all unicorns and daisies, but nothing compared to what I chose to put myself through for the last 3 years- and that's one thing I had to realize. My obstacles, my struggling, was my choice. Did I want to struggle and have so much pain caused to myself and those I love? Of course not, but that was a consequence of the path I chose to take- a consequence I decided I never wanted again.

Yes, life will always throw curveballs, and sometimes horrible things occur without any reason or cause from you. If it's one obstacle after another, after another, after another, with no breaks in between, then pause for a moment. If it seems like you are one of those people who, every step they take is the wrong one, then maybe the Universe is trying to tell you that you aren't quite on your path, and those obstacles are there to honestly deter you- not for you to rise above and continue on. Maybe it's time for you to let go and see where the river takes you. And those people who it seems like they can never do wrong- maybe they let go, found out where they were supposed to be, and then worked and perfected upon it.

So while the koi and the salmon have their beautiful symbolism, look at the end of both of their paths- the koi turns into a dragon. Awesomeness, yeah, but forever feared by others, eventually hunted and killed (and think about trying to sneeze- your dwelling would immediately go up in flames). And the salmon gets to struggle upstream, lay eggs or fertilize eggs, and then die. Death. Wow.

So I say, what's so good about being a fish, anyway? If I have to be an aquatic animal, how about a dolphin? They are intelligent, mothering, social, altruistic and playful. They work together in times of struggle, protect each other, and have an amazingly laid back, fun nature. I'm sold. Make me a dolphin.