Yesterday I sat by a pond to eat my lunch. A particularly peaceful spot, there were some koi carp circling the pond’s perimeter.
As I sat in in quite contemplation munching on my pasta and vegetables, a surprising thing happened. A fish swam around the pond and, when it reached the point at where I was sat, did a quick roll onto its side and darted off.
At first I thought this was just a one off, until two other fish followed suit in a game-like fashion. I realised that this was probably what they did to attract the attention of potential feeders standing nearby.
I had no suitable food to offer them, but the event brought my lunchtime to life, and my solitary contemplation was suddenly blessed by an impromptu relationship; a surprise connection with some hungry fish.
What struck me was their apparent awareness of my presence and inclination to perform this display. Now, I’m sure someone far more intelligent than I will explain that this is a learned behaviour of association and fish aren’t conscious of such individual interactions, but either way, the connection between our two species, in this moment, whatever scientific form it may have taken, was very real.
My thoughts took a turn to the interconnectivity of life, to the way in which life is always complemented by relationships. In a way, we are never alone, never living an individualistic existence, no matter how much we may try, or disconnected we may feel.
In essence, the ‘I’ doesn’t exist. If you look around there is always a ‘we’, no matter what, be it someone near you, the sound of a bird singing in a tree, or indeed a fish joining you for lunch.
When we consider life to be an individual pursuit of survival, happiness and success, it is easy to cast a blanket of pointlessness over everything we do and label life as meaningless.
Without knowing what is beyond our present consciousness, we must accept that each one of us is just a conglomeration of atoms making up a very small part of a much bigger picture. It doesn’t matter to Mother Nature which physical body her energy manifests itself within. The host is irrelevant. She requires only that it exists. Human or fish, life is random in this way, a birth lottery. It is indifferent. In the eyes of Mother Nature, we are all part of the same interdependent cycle.
Yet we defiantly choose to look at the individual picture, identifying and categorising by status, colour, religion, political persuasion, etc. Mother Nature, on the other hand, looks at the bigger picture: that every life source is an equally valid contributor to her perpetual cycle of life. Every source of energy has its rightful place, regardless of gender, demographic data or species.
My encounter with the fish reminded me that existence is always relational, and this is what gives it beautiful meaning. Look around and you will see that everything is in a relationship with something else. From the galaxies and solar systems to the sub-atomic structure of matter, everything is interacting, supporting, facilitating and co-operating.
And so it becomes clear that to individualise one’s existence in an attempt to create greater individual meaning (success) is a vacuous pursuit that works against the very principle of the universe.
When life is seen in this way, the mind is freed from individual suffering and a collective consciousness is awakened within. An energy arises that brings us closer together, enabling us to share our resources and create a better existence for all. We are reminded that we are all experiencing the same obstacles, fears and insecurities. And when shared, these things are far easier to cope with.
If we look at life through the lens of Mother Nature, through the eyes of one consciousness, the individual experience dissipates and is replaced by a higher collective experience that binds everything together.
When we see the world in this way, life begins to shift the focus from the “I” to the “we”, to the bigger picture. The bigger picture is a liberating realisation that lifts the weight from the shoulders of the internal individual battle and allows us to connect with the wider consciousness that exists outside of the ego.
And so we see that the individual existence we perceive is not pointless because it has no meaning, but valuable because it makes a contribution to life that lives on in everything else when comes to pass.
So what else is there to do but to submit to Mother Nature and live life through her lens of truth, which is encouraging us to reach out and connect with each other, to share good fortune, to lend a hand, to enjoy happiness collectively and work towards being the best that “we”, not “I”, can be.
All this from an encounter with fish. Such is the wonder of nature.