Sunday, 9 August 2015

Oh, the great plans I had for my new pet fish

"Call me Ishmael." For I was optimistic and full of hope!

It was 1980 something. And, as any teenage boy worth his salt I drove my Mom crazy by 'hanging around'. It wasn't so much as 'hanging around', but I suffered from the common affliction what was then known as being #bored (without the #). It wasn't so much as being bored, but it was problem of finding something that would hold my attention for longer than 2.5 seconds. Today, psychologists might label me as being mildly ADD with a slant towards 'inattentiveness'. Back then, however, my Mom would just say I was being 'vervelend', which is the Dutch word to describe someone who is causing an irritation or an annoyance! I didn't exactly know what the word meant then, but I knew that when she used it I wasn't being very lovable.

So, with a grand - and rare - idea conjured up, I jumped on my metallic red, Canadian Tire 'Super-Cycle' and rode the 3km trek to Waterdown's one and only pet store to buy a gold fish and a bowl. (To this day I'm not exactly sure why I thought this would hold my attention, but I was going with it and I wasn't going to argue with myself!) After selecting the fish with the perfect shade of orange, and locating a glass bowl that looked like...well...'just like home' from a fish's perspective, I made the precarious trip to our Robson Road address. With a fish - in a bag of water - in one hand, and my new fish's home in the other, I was thankful that long before I learned to steer my bike and its curved handle bars with my knees. Step 1 was complete.

Step 2: Transferring the fish and its water from the bag to the bowl went exceedingly well. I executed flawlessly - neither did I spill a drop nor cause a near death experience to my unnamed fish. In good fish fashion I like to think he raised his gill as if to pump a fist and say 'thanks' for rescuing him from being the next dinner item for the neighbouring Tetra fish.

The moment I had been waiting for was soon to arrive. I would place Nemo, (not his real name) and his new glassy confines on my dresser in my bedroom, which was located on the second floor of my home. The only barriers in my way to a state of bliss were a flight of stairs...a tight corner to navigate...a slight elevation of the bowl to the top of the dresser...and I was all set to be entertained for the rest of my life. Or, so I thought. I cautiously cruised up the 13 stairs that separated my known worlds of the awake and of the asleep. With only 5 feet to go and my dresser in sight I cut the corner too tight at the top of the stairs; my shoulder brushed up against the wall...and...crash. My bowl and its proud occupant slammed onto the floor triggering a small tsunami as shards of glass flew this way and that. And, there on cold floor, with a glass spear impaling him through his tiny abdomen, Nemo looked at me with mournful eyes as if to say 'Et tu Brute?" Then his gills no longer gilled and his fins finned no more.

With all my great planning I didn't account for the phenomenon known as condensation. Somewhere between transferring Nemo from the bag to the bowl and placing Nemo's home on its final resting place, a layer of condensation formed on the exterior of the glass. As I walked carefully through my home, my hands were releasing their tight grip and I could feel the bowl being heavily influenced by gravity. My enemy was time...and I ran out. Nemo paid the price. I've never owned a fish since that fateful day!

All this gets me to the abbreviation: D.V., which we would see printed in our church's bulletin every now and again. No, it didn't refer to my Dad's or my brother's initials as we chuckled about whenever we saw it printed. It was the abbreviated form of "Deo Volente" translated as 'God willing' based on the teaching in James 4:13-15. In the early 1900's and later in the century, D.V. would often follow a publication of wedding banns or other official announcements and when you saw it you would know that it meant: "We plan these things, and if it's God's will, then they'll take place."

So, I have two questions - A: was it God's will that Nemo didn't swim to see another day, and B: can James' statement be directed at teenaged boys transporting fish? A: I really don't know. B. I highly doubt it! But, I do know, that if we think we can do anything on our own power and steam without acknowledging Him as the author and finisher of all things, then all our plans are for nothing - broken, shattered, and impaled forever to a world of emptiness and loneliness. As Proverbs 16:1 says, "We make our plans, but God has the last word."