Incredibly, I've Lived In Chico, CA 8 Years Now.
Escaping the Tyranny of the Mundane Experience
While I have been in Chicago this week, my husband introduced our fish to their new, larger tank. Here they are in a photo Marc sent me, showing the whole disgruntled line-up. Note that Scumpster, our algae-eater to the left, never formerly associated with the goldfish riff-raff, aka Fish and Slimey. He preferred to hide in his volcano between ghastly meals. For the day of the move, they emerged together as an an iterant band of newly bonded gypsies, staring at Marc with shining eyes. And then, new reality seeped into the gaps of their resistance-web to affirm a brave new and spacious world to be explored, complete with new hiding spots, one for each.
Like the formerly transplanted me, they needed to sit awhile in stunned stillness before they felt able to freely move about the alternate world in which they had suddenly been cast. They did not die from the shift to a radical new place. I imagine their new motto: dive, survive, thrive.
“Be water, my friend.” Bruce Lee. (See Below.)
Flipping back and forth between Chicago and Chico has taught me something about the power of places, including their characters, and just to be clear, I mean the character of places – those we carry within us, and those literal places to which we travel. Traveling back and forth is rewarding to me as I cut new paths in places that are either new to me, or which I’ve known forever that I see with my new pair of shining eyes and a mind that feels more alive thanks to the challenge of the shifts.
It’s true that “everywhere we go there we are,” but this only adds to the mystique of places that find shape in our memories and are seasoned with our opinions. Our perceptions are liberally salted with the opinions of others, who have often yet to realize they can make or break a place for new arrivals through their thoughtlessly descriptive language. The words locals anywhere use can be rotely delivered, prejudiced, and more often than not do not convey the fluid truth of their town, because words alone cannot.
Only community, the great aggregate language of people in camaraderie if not agreement, can do that.
I mean, look at Scumpster, Fish, and Slimy, out together for the first time, facing change head on with their shining eyes. There’s a world to be born under your fins, my friends, whatever tank you are in. This they discovered on their own: It’s really all good. You have what you need. Use it and have fun, and by the way, with any change ahead- like a move to an even bigger tank someday, and/or new comrades who you may or may not be able to accept at first- a little hope is warranted. See?
Be Water, My Friends: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGFf3SRP1bE