Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A Fish Named Louis


"All there is to thinking is seeing something noticeable, which makes you see something you weren't noticing, which makes you see something that isn't even visible." - Leo Strauss

Several years ago, I was on business for a few weeks in India. At the hotel where I spent my sleeping hours, typically I would eat lunch in the hotel restaurant prior to meeting my driver for the drive over to the office.

A fish named Louis.

It was a daily ritual during lunch time that if sitting by yourself a fishbowl with a single goldfish was brought out and set on the table with you. Each day they brought a bowl with a fish named Louis. I know his name was Louis as his name tag was on the bowl.

Everyday a different card attached would be inscribed with an amusing phrase such as "Try the fish, I used to have a mother-in-law". It was meant to keep you company and if you wish, write a message on the card for Louis. My response one day for Louis was to write "Life is a bowl of cherries, but in your case a bowl of water. So sorry!"

A turn of the bowl.

One particular day something happened which changed my perspective. Sitting down for my customary lunch time meal, Louis was set on the table. As I was reading the newspaper I took a quick glance, acknowledged the fish bowl and carried on. I even ate part of my meal when the waiter came by and asked how the meal and conversation with Louis had been.

I looked again and thought...where is he?

The waiter looked and there was no Louis in the fish bowl. An empty fish bowl had been brought to the table except for the water and few pebbles at the bottom. I had become so oblivious to this friend accompanying me at lunch time. How had I taken Louis for granted, for always being there?

A new fish bowl was brought to the table and Louis was there this time. I firmly acknowledged his presence, said 'hello' to him, asked how he had been and then went about my meal. And before you think I had lost my mind, the point of it did not go unnoticed.

Do we tend to take for granted those around us?

I had become so used to this fish being there, that when he was not I did not notice. Can the same thing happen in our real life 'person to person' relationships? Do you fail to notice or acknowledge those around you? It is one of the worst feelings a human can have, one in which people ignore or fail to notice you are there.

What about the everyday encounter with people we meet or interact with each day? In your daily walk, do you ignore or fail to notice people around you? Think about it, you have probably walked past a door man for the fortieth time this year already. Have you said hello, sent a smile his way, or simply acknowledged their presence?

I have seen it happen many times and admit I've done it myself.

We look past those we might feel are beneath us, the low wage worker, the homeless and those we feel we don't want to be bothered with. Take a moment and reflect on that...am I so great that I should not even acknowledge those I pass each day?

If you are doing this with those outside the home, it is probably happening inside home as well. You become complacent with the ones closest to you. You become complacent with those you work with or go to church with. And we miss each day the opportunity to impart some goodness within us upon others.

Improve and make their day a bit brighter.

I am not sure that Louis, my goldfish friend had much despair over my inattention. But you can be sure that your inattentiveness to others is noticed. Mostly by the person you love and might be overlooking each day. In Proverbs it is written, “If you wish your merit to be known, acknowledge that of other people.”

Acknowledge those around you and stay inspired my friends!

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