Friday, 17 January 2020

Thought Picnic: In our symbolic aquariums of our human existence


Fishes in a world
At a sauna there was an installed aquarium full of fishes of different sizes, colours and surprisingly temperaments. Some swam around excitedly even cresting where the air meets the water as if to take a breath, some idling listlessly and others apparently shy and docile hiding behind stones probably not wanting to be disturbed. The spectacle a calming effect on the observer.
I have always been fascinated about aquariums, though I wonder if the entertainment of human beings to the wonders of the deep in ponds, streams, rivers, lakes, seas and oceans are to any other purpose than the abuse of the predominance of humanity to the detriment of other life forms.
Obviously, they need to be studied and understood, the abuse and misuse of some has brought great health benefits to us, but is there is a better way?
The Pisces think tank
To an extent, I have begun to detest zoos and apart from the real effort of conservation brought on by our creating the loss of habitat for economic purposes, anthropomorphic climate change and hunting within the threat of extinction, we all can share this planet without exterminating each other.
The aquarium looked like a fish world and I began to put human thoughts in the heads of the fish. Do they think there are other aquariums like theirs just as we wonder if there are any Earth-like planets with inhabitants like us or lifeforms we can begin to understand? Goldilocks zones at distances that boggle the mind.
In each aquarium that we have built and filled with fishes, have we adopted the role of a demigod in making that nature suitable for their habitation? Keeping the water clean, ensuring it is oxygenated, feeding the fish, observing closely their health and wellbeing with the taking of action to arrest anomalies. Are we like fish to a divine being in the same sense?
By dorsal velocity
Consider a situation where the fish was able to escape its aquarium to experience life outside it and then we realise that to escape earth we need to take essential parts of our earthly environment with us, a life-supporting kit as we put a fiery rocket to our backsides to escape. It would be madness to the fish, it would have been madness to man just over a century ago.
Then just two days ago, I boarded an Airbus A380 with the capacity for a village from Johannesburg to Paris for a journey of 10 hours 55 minutes at 40,000 feet (12.192 km) altitude which in a straight line would be 5,430.95 miles (8,740.26 km). I did that return journey 5 times in the space of a year.
This our capacity for mad adventure is more or less the norm, yet, we would find it strange in fish, yet, we are gleefully entertained out at Hermanus, South Africa, between July and November when whales flip out of the water and we can watch from comfort terra firma.
Fishing for meaningfulness
None of my thoughts are fully formed on the comparison for aquariums and fish tanks to our earth of somewhat diminishing resources with explosive population growth in some parts of our world. However, I do recognise that we live in different kinds of aquariums within national boundaries that confer citizenship as well as limitations in travel where others have privileges, opportunities and means to leap between aquariums of humanity without much of a care about it.
Global travel, we have probably mastered, space travel after the moon landings has gone no further than International Space Station with considerably finite resources. Interstellar travel is still the stuff of wild imagination and science fiction, even that had helped our understanding of how to live better on earth.
The human body for all its resilience is still quite fragile, there is still much to learn about ourselves and the many organisms we share the earth with. I do wonder if the fish see us as some other lifeform and as they swim to the sides of the tank or the top of the water, they are trying to communicate with us and in all our human predominance masking our apparent idiocy we have not learnt to say a common hello to the fishes in our aquariums.

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