When I Was Something Resembling A Stickleback Fish in the Fens of England

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

My inner perfectionist thinks I shouldn't play NaBloPoMo anymore because the whole point of it is to blog every day, and I've missed a couple of days here and there because of fatigue.  Well, up yours, inner perfectionist.  I'm still playing.

What animal makes you jumpy and nervous? is today's prompt.  How unoriginal of me (and I bet pretty much everybody else who responds to this writing prompt) that what automatically springs to mind are spiders.

What is that about, anyway, that fear?  It feels feral and primal.  Here's what I think happened.  Or something like it.

CC pic by Open Cage Systems
Okay.  Well, before we go any further, let me introduce myself.  That's me there, to the left.  Or one of my exceedingly distant relatives, anyway.  This is what I once was.  Or rather, it's who I once was.  Or something like him, or her.  Millions and millions of years ago, in one of my earliest incarnations, I was a fish, somewhat resembling a stickleback.   I lived in Europe.  In England, in a fen.

I mean, all of that's just conjecture really.  I feel in my spine that it was in that area called England by the humanish, but what did I know about countries?  I could have been in France.

My sort of language was much different than the human language.  Both better but more limited.  It was ... a fishy language.  I didn't speak, but man, we spoke volumes.  We had 120 words-spoke-fishly for water.  What I could see as a fish I have lost as a human, though sometimes I get glimpses of it;  it filters occasionally through the veil, and if I am watching very closely I can catch it.

But yeah, I miss that, being a fish.  Nobody can ever see the world in quite the same way that a fish somewhat resembling a stickleback fish living in a fen in England can.

Anyway.  So I'd lived my life, you know, communing with the mystery that can only come in via my particular fishness.  Swimming will never be quite like it was then for me, ever again.  I miss the flit of the shoal.  I miss being part of that group swim, where we just knew to all flit to the right and up and left, and we all did it together like a dance.  Though we were too busy escaping for it to be a dance, but still, that's what it was.

I'd hatched four loads of babies.  There is a feeling I felt when I saw all of those babies hatch and swim off into the water, but it doesn't really translate.

So I was a male, then.  In our world, the males make the nest, the females hatch the eggs into the nest, and then us guys look after the eggs till they're ready to spill.  And so that's what happened four times.  I had lots of babies, and I suppose I was getting on a bit and was a good old age.  And then the spider came.

CC photo by Simon Huguet
I'm guessing it was a spider somewhat resembling a great raft spider that grabbed me.  I presume it was one of this mob because I knew them.  I'd managed to keep away from them up until then, and between the time I was swimming and then the time I wasn't, a glimpse out of the corner of my eye showed me something resembling this.

And so the spider somewhat resembling a great raft spider ate me, and then that was the end of my life.  I'm still surprised at how painless it was.  I mean, there was pain, but not in the way you imagine.  It was a peaceful sort of a pain.  And then that life was over, and yes, sometimes, I still miss it.

And that fear has continued down with me through all of my incarnations.  But even though I understand the fear, seeing I was killed by one of those things, the fear I feel as a human somewhat resembling a human living in the beauty of the Dandenong Ranges in Australia seems far too overblown.  It is a manageable fear, but then again if a Huntsman fell on my head from the roof I would scream and part of me would detach and think that this is what's going to tip me over the edge into insanity.  If there is a Huntsman on the wall, I flinch.  I be so many more times bigger than it;  the flinch beggars belief.

One of the things I miss about being a fish somewhat resembling a stickleback living in the fens in England is that things were so much simpler.  What was important rose to the top.  Or didn't even need to rise to the top;  it was just there.  I could look out of the fishy eyes on the side of my head and not even need to know what I needed to know, because I just knew it already and there was nothing more to know.  How peaceful that was.

Whereas being a human somewhat resembling a human living in the beauty of the Dandenong Ranges in Australia is so much more complicated.   And I do actually think that we humans too know all we need to know, but it gets hidden in the complicated ways we manage ourselves.  It's very easy to forget as a human what you know.  And that what you know is probably closer to a fishy knowing than what counts for human knowing, at least in vast tracts of the fens that we humans live in.

Still, being human - it's a pretty wondrous and beautiful thing, being a human, being so intricate and all, but because it's so complicated, it's easy to forget stuff.  And so you sit down to write a blog post thinking, "Oh, I don't know what to write about animals that make me jumpy that hasn't already been written before," and then once you start you get really into writing your blog post, and you can tell you're starting to feel better than you have been because it just sort of springs out of you from that rich place where all the stories spring.

And then the phone rings and you realise with a jolt in your chest that your massage/chiropractice adjustment appointment has been and gone and you've completely forgotten about it, even though you totally remembered it last night when you were going to sleep and was pretty sure you wouldn't forget that.  But you did.  Completely and totally.

And so you are jealous of the fish that did not need to make appointments that it could then forget.  And you think it's nice to not fear the spider eating you, even though it still makes you jumpy, but being at the top of the food chain has its other jumpy and nervous challenges, like when the telephone rings.


  1. Such a great post!  You are so funny and entertaining while getting your point across.  (I never even heard of that type of fish!)

  2. I lose count of the ways I like this post, Sue. 'I' got lost in it, just as 'you' did:)

  3. Priceless! As someone who caught stickleback fish and brought them home in jam jars (and what would they write about that?) I was hanging on every word. As they others say, you really can write when you set your mind to it!

  4.  Thanks, Winnie!  (To be completely honest, I'd never heard of it before I Googled it 10 minutes before I wrote this post either! ;)

  5. Haha, I thougth you might like this one, Harry :)

  6. My inner critic said, "Ha.  See.  Mike said that you really can write when you set your mind to it.  Which infers that he thinks that most of the stuff you write here is hastily-scribbled crap."

    See what calibre of thoughts I regularly have to dismiss, Mike?  ;)

    Thanks, really, MIke :)  I wonder what the sticklebacks woulda thunk about being stuck in your jam jar too :)

  7.  No, he doesn't think that. But your computer would melt if you blogged as well as this EVERY day...


Newer Older