Saturday, August 27, 2011

Arnold Goes Back to College

Those of you who know me realize that I don’t have a son named Arnold. But I do have a son who has a goldfish named Arnold (named after the composer Arnold Schoenberg, not Arnold Schwarzenegger). Arnold has been home with my son for the summer, but tomorrow he was scheduled to return to college (had it not been for Hurricane Irene, that is). Come Monday, if all goes swimmingly, Arnold will be on his way back to academia.
            Why do I write of Arnold and not my son, you may ask? Well, by now those who know me well (and some who do not), may be tired of reading my sad, sentimental scribblings about my kids growing up and away. So this time I decided to write about the fish. After all, I’ll miss him. And I learned a lot from him this summer.
            One thing I learned from Arnold is that fish communicate quite well. For instance, in the early morning hours when I often rise to do a yoga meditation, Arnold swims in happy circles. He seems to enjoy the mantra music I play (or at least its vibration). Later in the day, when Arnold gets hungry, he often swims to the top of his bowl and makes a little chirping noise at the surface of the water. If anyone happens to be eating nearby, he frantically searches for food; it seems as if he doesn’t want anyone to have to dine alone. Like his namesake, the fish is damned brilliant.
            I’ve learned other things from Arnold. Occasionally, when I’m feeling sad or sorry for myself I look at him and wonder how he can be content with swimming in circles in a little bowl all day. Of course, he doesn’t really know what he’s missing. But I think there’s a lesson in learning to be happy with what one has. When I look at Arnold, even on a down kind of day, I always feel pretty lucky. At least, I think, I’m not in a fish tank (though sometimes it feels like I am!).
            At night, Arnold sleeps peacefully at the bottom of the bowl. You can stay up late talking or walking around, but Arnold is unmoved. He knows when it’s time to pack it in.
            He’s also a patient fish (except when he’s hungry). That is to say, he just swims along, day after day, doing what a fish does. He’s not a drama queen (or king). He just is.
            So, I will miss Arnold (and I can’t help but say it, I’ll miss my son, too!).  But I know college, the dorm, the girlfriend, his studies, parties, all-nighters, and all that fun stuff awaits him. He’s a college fish, and there’s just no changing that. Still, I do hope he’ll be back next summer!

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