Monday, October 27, 2008

A fish out of water

As I buried my fish, I was struck by a thought: the only instance in which we were in the same physical space together, in the open air, was upon his death.

We were both born in water, but it's not where people are meant to reside. The water barrier cannot be crossed both ways. Jake's glistening little body had to be lifeless against the earth because the earth can never be his home. It somehow made me think of inter-dimensionality, and the modes in which we exist--the places we directly experience and those we cannot because of our limited physical capabilities.

A bowl on my end table, a fish never leaving water, never moving beyond the confines of the glass. There is sadness in that recognition of separation.

We are all separate from each other, just as our bodies exist to uniquely contain each one of us apart from all others. And yet, we still strive, we still find ways to overcome our difference and connect, with or without words. Across the divide. In some ways, we are one.

As for me and my fish, there were messages sent and received despite the barriers of bowl and water. We "played" chase as I would drag my finger around the outside of the glass; he would move near me as I sat to watch TV; he turned to face me as he was dying, gasping for air while perched upon his tiny plastic plant.

We can connect with or without words, with and without our bodies. It makes me wonder about what else exists--what are those places of which we may have no awareness, other dimensions, perhaps, and do we touch, do we overlap, in those dimensions?

As for separation and death, perhaps death is what frees us from the physical constraints of our perceptions. Perhaps only in death can we transcend cause-and-effect time and reach a place where we are both separate and one, in time and outside of it. After all, time is merely one dimension. We are current prisoners of our linear perception, but that is not all there is.

We fear death. Culturally, we think of it as something to be hated, to be overcome. No one wants to die. But death will always be a reality, and as such, there must be something positive about it. Maybe the gift of death is to embody the paradox. To be apart from, yet to be with all.

Maybe in death we have a moment to see ourselves as we truly are, both our good and our bad, concurrently. Perhaps our life is simply practice for this ultimate state of contradiction that spans across borders we currently cannot see. Perhaps death simultaneously holds us in all that we are, all our love and hate, all of us that lives in the past and the future.

I've recently been listening to some music I haven't heard in years. I was struck by "Hyperdrive" from the 1974 album Dragonfly by Jefferson Starship, which is about the present, past and the future and the paradox of existence in time:

    And If it rains again tonight, I can think light years ahead

    Or I could put myself back a thousand years ago

    As if I'd always been here before or as if I am still to be born

    I'm a slow loser, but I'm a fast learner

    That much I know

    Anyone can go

    That much I know

    Anyone can go
And you will. Because you're already here.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Jake the Betta Fish, RIP

Jake the Betta fish died today, presumably around 3 pm at the age of 2 years and 9 months (at least, the time I knew him). Betta fish only live about 2 years, so his age was remarkable--he lived nearly a third longer than expected. He was consistently energetic throughout his life, which differed somewhat from Telly, my other fish who passed away at under two years.

Even though some would say he was just a fish, we had a kind of communion. He would swim near me while I watched TV, and chase my finger along the side of the bowl. He fell ill the past few weeks, and as his life slowed down, he still managed to move himself near me when I was sitting near his bowl and look directly at me.

He was buried at 6:45 p.m. in the garden of my new building. A piece of brick marks the spot. I'm sorry he died in a strange new place he wasn't used to, but I am glad to have had him in my life, something alive to come home to and to take care of.

This photo ended up being unintentionally appropriate. "Memorial" is framed above him.

RIP, Jake. You were a good fish.

Friday, October 10, 2008

From Kings to Queens

County, that is.

Before everything is unpacked and the rooms decorated, waking up somewhere new feels like living in a hotel that inexplicably contains all of one's belongings. Nothing feels quite like home yet, and after spending 5.5 years in one apartment, it's utterly jarring to find oneself in another part of the city with all routines disrupted.

Even though I live by myself and am quite used to it, moving dredges up a sense of aloneness--a person has to do everything by herself, from attending the closing to booking movers to waiting for the cable guy in an empty apartment. There is no one to help out, or to share the experience with. It's easy to focus on what seems to be lacking. The upshot is that a person can prove to themselves what they are capable of, and be proud to be able to accomplish everything on their own. The mortgage approval process these days is a bit crazy, and applying for a co-op is worse than filling out college applications.

New beginnings aren't really endings--they're continuations of where we have already been. This phase began on the day of the autumnal equinox. Things have been reset, but it's not the same as showing up in a town five and a half years ago, knowing no one with nowhere specific to be, looking for work and a room of one's own.

The location has changed, but already, there are new possibilities with old friends. Just in the past five days, I've run into four different friends either in the neighborhood or on the train. I may be displaced, but the city still has a place for me.

We are the kings and queens of our castles. And finally, my castle is my own. Queens take Kings in chess. I'm feeling certain this move is a winner.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A quote worth reading

I consider being out of the closet a moral issue, and it's refreshing to see it framed similarly by someone else.

I just ran across this quote by Rachel Maddow, who now has her own show on MSNBC.

She says:

"I think that there is a moral imperative to be out, and I think that if you’re not out, you have to come to an ethical understanding with yourself why you are not. And it shouldn’t be something that is excused lightly. I don’t think that people should be forced out of the closet, but I think that every gay person, sort of, ought to push themselves in that regard. Because it’s not just you. It’s for the community and it’s for the country."

This is from the After Ellen article, "Rachel Maddow, Anchor Woman."

Thanks, Rachel, for being of like mind.