the goldfish paradox

Do fish know when it’s raining?

fisheyeImagine for a moment that you are a goldfish.  Let your mind wander and spiral inwards.  You live in a small goldfish bowl, on a table, in the corner of a room.  That’s all you can see.  Everything you see is by looking through goldfish eyes, first through water, and then curved glass.  Your world is going to look spherical and distorted. If you don’t work very hard on your memory then you will forget everything within three seconds.  If you train really hard you might remember things for up to five months.  By human standards, you’re going to have a very strange and very limited understanding of the Cosmos.

Nothing is quite what it appears to be,  when it’s only with your eyes you see.  ~ N’Zuri Za Austin

In absolute terms, when you stop imagining that you’re a goldfish your understanding of the cosmos doesn’t get a whole lot better.  Each of us has only a small and distorted view of ourselves, the people we think we know, the world we live in, and out to the edges of time and space.  We see through a glass, darkly.

Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact.  Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.  ~  Marcus Aurelius.

However, a goldfish is probably blissfully unaware that there is a multiverse beyond its bowl and the room it can see.  A goldfish most likely doesn’t agonise over the past, think about the present, or worry much about the future.  A goldfish does not have much knowledge, does not bemoan its ignorance, and does not seek for reality.  Most of us human beings do think of the past, try to make the most of the present, and make plans for the future.

Making our plans for the future can only be an imperfect and ephemeral endeavour at best ~ there are just too many variables, a host of outside influences, and the very strong likelihood that other people will not do as we would wish or expect them to.  More often than not we will find ourselves reacting to events, rather than controlling them.  But we are not goldfish.  To some extent we are in control of our own destiny.  To a great extent we are in control of our own minds.

To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.  ~  Anatole France

We can choose what we think, we can change what we believe, and we can decide how we will react and respond to the things that happen to us.  We do not have to swim around in little circles with our mouths opening and closing mindlessly.  We do not have to forget most things within three seconds.  Uniquely some of us learn to accept that there is a difference between what we see, the things we believe to be true, and reality.

The map is not the territory.  ~  Alfred Korzybski

To become the very best version of you that you can ever be, you must first begin to leave aside childish thoughts and beliefs.  You must learn to distinguish between what is false and what is real; between what is truth and what is a popular lie.  As 90% of the people you will ever meet are jerks, wazzocks, and fools for 90% of the time, if you take the path to truth you will be walking a lonely road.  Many people never learn that what they believe probably isn’t reality, truth, congruent, tenable, or even probable.

Most people go through life living in a goldfish bowl of their own making, too afraid to see the truth beyond their own little world, unwilling to remember the truth of their own past, and hence unable to learn from their triumphs and disasters.  Most people are happy to move around in little circles opening and closing their mouths constantly and pointlessly.  What we all need is a little moral courage to seek and face the truth of painful reality.

It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world, and moral courage so rare.  ~  Mark Twain.

Because you are reading this you probably just about know the next step on the path you must take towards becoming the best version of you that you can ever be.  But just for a while look inwards, imagine your world is as limited as that of a goldfish in a bowl.  Eventually your soul will make it clear what should most matter to you, and what you need to do next on your life’s journey to ultimate truth and reality.

 Look where you have been; view where you are at; seek where you want to be.  ~  Gwendolyn Moore

The paradox is that the less we look out into the world, the more we see of ourselves.

~

P1050015these thoughts are mine and mine alone

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

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4 responses

  1. Very profound … thought-provoking. I especially like the quotes from N’Zuri Za Austin and Mark Twain. And your analogy of most people being willing to swim in their own little bowl, opening and closing their mouths. Good post, Jack! Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Awesome. I wish the little algaeeaters who have been night and day in my night-only daycare for 1.5 months would quit opening their mouths so I could absorb more.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Very Well written!!!

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