Why do fish jump?
This compelling question surfaced a few evenings ago in the buttery glow that follows the setting sun in western Florida. WE, the collective inhabitants of this wondrous beach house settled into high and low mismatched beach chairs to bathe in the daily color extravaganza that is sunset on the Gulf of Mexico.
Our powers of observation have been honed to a razor edge by days of surveillance of water and sky, sunrise to star-rise. Each day, armed with healthy fruit juice, punctuated with spiced rum and bitters, we participated in the miracle of BEACH. The miraculous intersection of air, water and earth.
As the sun dropped below the horizon, the fish follies began. From our sandy perspective, the fish jumped like hot popcorn; first 2 then 20 then 100. We questioned the possibilities of all those fish simultaneously spotting an insect snack, or fleeing a predator.
We paused, we pondered and other questions arose. Why do Pelicans glide inches off the surface, with no apparent destination? What compels a mini manta ray to leave his cadre and fling himself into the air? That seagull that regularly plunges into the water at high speed and comes up with nothing is either a poor hunter, or it feels great.
The oracle was queried and it was suggested that living things run, wrestle, romp leap and jump as a part of their existence, a necessary expression of energy that utilizes to the fullest extent the physical body they inhabit. Deer leap, dogs swim and birds ride the air currents. They do it because they can. They do it because it feels great.
For this week we can abandon the human notion that all actions must have human ordained “purpose.” I propose that the energy expressed by finding a beautiful shell, feeling the surf as sound, watching an Osprey, is returning a debt owed. We take in bright sun and clear water, good food grown in dark dirt and we keep it for ourselves. Get out there and laugh, run, smile at everyone. Jump like the fish…
…and as She smiled down at all of us…we four were a part of all that thoughtful observation too…but you, Minerva, put it into prose.
I actually recognize those clean shells on the bannister, and have planted some of them around my houseplants. The plants with the shell skirts are now looking out the window at the (shrinking, dirty) snow instead of the sand…Oh dear…
Thank you for reminding me of my true “purpose” is to enjoy life in all its abundance. Too often, I get tied to the manufactured purposes of deadlines and answering to others’ demands of my energy, time, and focus. I will steal away time at the dawn and setting of the sun (and moments between) to do some leaping of my own and celebrate movement and connection with all life as the Creator had intended.
This was not the answer I expected, but much better. When I am tired of the concrete world or stuck in my office with no windows, I will read this and be back at Palm Island again. You have captured the feeling!