Category Archives: Conversation

Life in a goldfish bowl


Living life in a goldfish bowl you are contained in a very small space. This can be a good thing as you can feel protected from influences outside the bowl. As a metaphor for life though, it’s a wakeup call (for me), as life in the goldfish bowl also inures you against the wonders and challenges that occur in the world outside the bowl.

If you were accustomed to living in the ocean for years, you developed strategies that protected you against predators and danger. Your survival skills were at the ready and you were always prepared to protect, react, and survive. Life outside the bowl also taught you how to communicate and help others who assisted you in being a member of the community of swimmers who were part of the greater ocean and who faced the daily challenge together and collectively.

By my own admission I retreated into a goldfish bowl. Loss and inertia overtook me and I retreated into a small and lovely goldfish bowl. I have inhabited it for five years now.

It’s easy to delude yourself into believing that you are living a life inside your gilded goldfish bowl, because there are no challenges. Life just goes on with the same beautiful plants and landscapes that are always lovely and unchanging, but I am slowly dying of boredom and stupor.

Terrifyingly I am attempting to crawl up the sides of my bowl and cast myself back into the ocean. I am older, slower, and not as vigorous as I once was, but I believe that with a bit of support from the greater swimmers out there, I will make it.

Sink or Swim

As we go through life we encounter many obstacles. We stumble over them, we navigate around them, and we plough on forward. It’s a one way street. Reflecting back on my life, I recognise that there have been many boulders along my path, and I know that I have steered my ship through many stormy seas.

Like many others I didn’t get a life raft and I had to learn to swim with sharks in order to survive. (forgive the overuse of metaphors in this piece of writing).

I realise that many of the blocks in my lifetime have been caused by people, their actions and reactions, their opinions and their viewpoints.. When you are trying to muddle your way out of a situation that largely affects you and only you, the decision to sink or swim is down to your own desire for survival.

In my late teens, the transition from being a single girl about town to being in a relationship was a new adventure for me. It suddenly wasn’t just all about me and my own endurance. Amazingly I was thrust into being the other half of a ‘couple’. Thinking and acting as one as we ventured forth into marriage and a grown up life where problems were shared instead of having to go it alone.

As a parent, passing on wisdom to my children was part of the job that I signed up to on giving birth. At times information and advice was well received, and at other times it was scorned and ridiculed. It’s always difficult to find a balance, and I understood (but not always liked) this awkward conundrum between parents and their offspring.

Like many others I’m sure, I have a passionate and overwhelming love for my now adult children, and I have attempted to protect them throughout their lives. Sometimes I have been over zealous and controlling (when they were teens) and other times I have been ill informed about particular circumstances and defended them when I should have taken a step back and listened to others. In my defence, I usually reacted about what I perceived was unjust behaviour and acted upon it even when it turned out that my offspring were at fault. Like me, they have flaws and are imperfect.

Time has moved on, and my children are now fully grown and are on their own pathways through life. They are in charge of their own vessels and have had to learn to steer through life for themselves. Their dad and I are fully present in their lives, and I know that we are a supporting influence in matters of importance.

Our family is very small. At its heart, there are two parents, and two kids. We fight, argue, listen and love. As parents we have opinions on every element of their lives that we are included in, and this can produce huge discussions (where no one agrees) sulks, laughter, gaiety and tears.

They are both so different. My daughter is a listener, pragmatic, very kind, clear thinking, thoughtful and sensible (like her dad). My son is an action man, an organiser, flamboyant, caring, generous, kind and thoughtful. Their very individual characteristics are acknowledged and celebrated all the time. In this wonderful small life, we have all learned to love and appreciate, and to fully support each other no matter what else is happening.

We have recently had the most horrendous eighteen months with the most difficult circumstances that has affected us all as a family, but that has impacted on my son Andy most of all.

We have all been tested. Truth, honesty, faith in human kindness, our belief and trust in each other, and how we view those who looked at us, have been held under a microscope where strangers have gazed and judged.

As a person who has minutely examined and reflected on the response of people who live in close proximity to me and my family throughout my whole life, some of the reactions have been disappointing.

Despite my belief that friendship and loyalty are qualities to be treasured and nurtured, I am unsurprised by some peoples responses, but sadly my family have been. That’s not to say that I’ve not been shocked by others reactions, I have been and they have changed me and how I view them.

Sincerity is something that carries huge value for me, as does integrity and truth.

Blind trust these days is rarely asked, but if there is a foundation of honesty, I believe that it’s easier to make the choice between belief and doubt, and sometimes people have to make the difficult decision about which side to fall on. Truth versus innuendo/ belief versus gossip/ honesty versus lies.

Having had no life raft during the past eighteen months, it’s been sometimes difficult to keep our heads above water. As a family we paddled persistently to avoid drowning and helped each other constantly as we threatened to slip under.

Thankfully and happily things have changed. Perspectives are altered, new goals have been achieved, and future prospects are looking more positive.

To the wonderful, nurturing, trusting people in my life who I treasure beyond measure, thank you for providing support based on the person that you know, trust and love. From the deepest place inside myself I am grateful. The hope and empathy that you have given us during our darkest days as a family, has steered us through the roughest toughest seas that I have ever encountered in my lifetime.

We are navigating towards blue skies and calmer waters ahead, and we will not sink, we will swim. As a family, we will survive.

Destiny is realising that anchors are the people who stabilise us when we are lost at sea without a compass.

Words and language.

I caught a TV series recently following child geniuses in their quest to be the best according to MENSA, the high IQ society. It has been fascinating. The programme followed several contestants throughout the heats allowing the viewer to catch a glimpse of these wonderful children, their parents and their guardians come under pressure to perform and make a particular grade. I am not sure how I would feel if this were a child of mine, and thankfully I never had to make decisions like this. One set of parents moved from the UK to Italy when their child was three years of age in order to enrol him in a particular kindergarten that was very educationally focused on child geniuses. It’s quite extraordinary the sacrifices that some people make for the sake of their children.

One thing that struck me about the competitors was their extended and eloquent vocabulary. One 12 year old participant who eventually won the competition, moved to England from India three years ago with her non English speaking Tamil family in order to enhance her ability to speak English. It is her 2nd language yet she has been the world Scrabble under twelve champion twice already.

Her vocabulary was so extensive. I envy that. I adore words and I love adding to my personal ‘repertoire’ all the time. Some people collect stamps, I like to collect words. I store them up inside my head in a beautiful mariner’s trunk that is lined with imaginary colourful fabric and cushioned boxes. All the special words that I rarely use in every day conversions get stored in here.

Whimsical words like ‘serendipity’, ‘fortuitous’, ’juxtaposition’, ‘murmur’, ‘myriad’ and ‘enchanting’ are words that are beautiful in their expression and sound, but are not for general conversation. ‘Reprehensible’, ‘ghastly’, ‘quintessential’ and ‘languid’ are other words that I would love to use daily but I don’t. Using words like these in my experience create divisions, as some people need them to be explained and understood in their context. When I have to explain the definition of a beautiful word that I am using for the sheer joy of using it, I feel that I am somehow being pretentious to the person who doesn’t understand its meaning. I usually give the explanation by using another word to replace the one that I have used, and I have been asked on numerous occasions why I didn’t use the simpler version in the first place.

This stops me writing in the way that I would love to. I have thousands of words stored in my mind that burst with colour, feeling, texture and excitement. I ‘think’ them all the time, but I don’t use them in my everyday speech as I don’t want to appear grandiose. I don’t want the people that I come into contact with to feel that I am using another language, and I don’t want to sound like I am trying to be impressive.

Simplicity has its place in everyday speech, and using language without being ‘flowery ‘is a way of communicating and being generally understood. However, I believe that there is a beauty and eloquence that is getting lost in our modern language because of the many words that are not regularly being used and spoken.

I wonder if I will eventually start a secret club that meets and ‘exchanges’ words in an undisclosed cavern where the password to enter will be a word that is the beautiful equivalent of a simpler version that is understood by many ?

Would anyone else care to join?

Destiny may be appreciating that it’s more important to be simply understood by many rather than being a linguistic marvel to few.