Like A Fish Out of Water

The little goldfish leapt out of the water leaving a rainbow-tinted arc in the air.  Missing the larger fish bowl set next to its own by a fraction of an inch, it landed on the floor and flopped around staring up at the ceiling, the table, and the opening mouth of the cat.  Swallowed in one slippery gulp the goldfish sank into the warmth of the cat’s insides.  The cat licked her paws and purred.  To the fish it sounded like angels humming.  The purring reverberated through its flapping gills and fluttering fins, and as the goldfish breathed its last, it reflected on the way things had turned out: “Well, I tried,” it thought, “I didn’t want to die not having tried for the larger bowl.  My bowl was fine.  It was comfortable and I liked it a lot, but the other bowl seemed well, just so big.  I thought if I landed there it would make the children happy when they got home from school wondering how on earth I got in the other bowl…The bowl they were planning on putting me in anyway…Oh well, I wanted to make them happy.  I wanted to feel the water from the larger bowl singing through my gills.  But I missed.  Now I’m nothing…The children will be so sad.” And those were the last words the goldfish consciously remembered before it sank into an illuminated blackness.  When it opened its eyes it was blinking in a blinding, brilliant light.  And it felt water—the most refreshing, cool, and invigorating water it had ever felt or tasted coursing through its body.  When it was finally able to focus it realized it was splashing and swimming through the largest body of water it had ever experienced.  It was swimming through a pond dappled with golden light.  The sky above was blue with billowing clouds moving like majestic cities.  Castles of lilies drifted lazily over the pond, cattails swayed along the banks, frogs with gold-flecked eyes sat hidden in the reeds.  The goldfish had never felt so free, so grand.  And as it neared the shore it saw through the shimmering water, two children, a boy and a girl, looking down into the pond.  “Look,” said the boy, “that is the biggest koi I’ve ever seen…look…it has a crown on its head.  It must be the king of the fish!”  “That fish looks familiar,” noticed the girl.  And as she leaned closer, her night-black hair touched the water.  “It looks like our old goldfish…you know the one the cat ate three years ago.”  “You’re right,” said the boy staring in wonder.  And they sat and watched the resplendent goldfish tracing glittering golden patterns in the crystal blue pond for the rest of the luminous afternoon. 

Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog

Achieving Your Goals, the Art of Teaching Each Other to Walk

Years ago, the baby crawled to the end-table, reached up, and hoisted herself onto chubby, wobbly legs.  She let go and then fell.  She reached up and grabbed the edge of the end-table again and lifted herself up.  She let go.  She fell.   Again and again she repeated this action until finally, over the course of many days, was able to balance herself on her own feet.  She chortled a crystalline laugh.  Her father sat in the chair across the room.  He held out his arms.  A coffee table and a foot stool stood in the path.  She looked down at her feet, thought at them to lift.  Finally one of her feet got the message and lifted, taking an awkward little step. And then she fell.  After a few exasperating moments flat on her face, she looked up at her father.  “You can do it,” he said, “one step at a time.” She rose again and steadied herself.  She raised her arms to ear level, and then teetered into a head-long step. And then fell again.  Over and over she fell and over and over got up.  Once he held out his hand and she grabbed ahold of one of his fingers and let herself be led across the room.  She was delighted.  She looked down at her moving feet.  She couldn’t believe what they were doing. Then he let go and she kept walking.  She looked up at him, amazed.  He held out his arms.  She tumbled into them laughing the laughter of heaven.  The image swirled through him.  That was thirty years ago. The sound of her laughter rang in his ears and formed the words: “You can do it daddy.”  He blinked back to the present moment where she held out her arms.  He slowly and tentatively rose from his wheel-chair, doctors and nurses looking on, and took the first steps he had taken since the car accident three years before.  He wobbled, teetered, and he grabbed her arms to steady himself.  “How am I going to do this?” he asked.  “One step at a time,” she said, tears forming in her eyes.  Then she let him go.  He took a little step, and then another.  He inched closer to her, until finally, he tumbled into her arms, laughing the laughter of heaven. 

Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog

Feeling Your Feelings: A Meditation on Being

Some days
the sadness comes, whispering into the fragrance of the day, dyeing it just enough with
blue so that your heart catches, and tears rise. 
Happiness can sneak up on you too. 
Some days you wake up, it might be in the middle of a dark winter, but
you find yourself inexplicably happy. 

Memories are
attached to cycles in the seasons and the weather.  Some days the autumn wind carries a memory
scented with sorrow that arrives when the air is cool, brisk, and full of rain.  Other times memories of happiness bloom in the
heart and suddenly everything is spring.

As it nears
the first anniversary of my mother’s death I remember her taking me to my first
guitar lessons when I was in second grade. 
I remember how she brought me to the creek after the lessons, and let me
lift my pant legs and take off my shoes and socks, and wade in the water to
look for crawfish, turtles, and salamanders. 
This memory snagged my heart like a fish hook a few days ago.  It reeled me back and back until it landed me
in a net of sorrow and gratitude, and I wept like a baby.

So when the
sadness comes, I needn’t ask why.  I
never ask myself why I’m happy.  I just
feel happy.  Why not do the same with
sadness?  Or anger?  Why do some feelings pine for
justification?  Certainly some are more
comfortable to feel than others.  But the
human experience is a mingling of many emotions, each with its own fragrance,
sensation, color, and yes, reason.  Since
they are ephemeral in nature however, it is nearly useless to try and figure
out why we’re feeling whatever it is we’re feeling.  Instead of teaching children to think out why
they’re feeling something, why not teach them to feel what they’re feeling and
not react in harmful ways to the uncomfortable ones (or to the happy ones for that

Sure things
need to get talked through, but feelings are like spirits.  They come when they come.  They go when they go.  They probably have their mysterious plans and
reasons for appearing in the blurred edges of your vision, but they might just be
passing through on their way to another soul. 

Rumi called
feelings guests.  He encouraged us to welcome
them in, letting them stay awhile knowing that they’d be moving on soon
enough.  I like his idea and add this one
of my own:  Bless them.  Thank them. 
Bless them all.  Thank them
all.  If you’re feeling something you
have a pulse.  You have hope—no matter
what the feeling.  If you’re emoting,
then just be with your feelings as if you were with a friend or a moving piece
of music.  Listen to them as if they were
senior citizens or young children.  They
have stories to tell.  They won’t
tell you why they exist—but they will just give you glimpses into their hearts,
into their histories with the wind, the stars, the darkness, and the
light.  They will offer you hints into
yourself as long as you approach those hints as if you would a deer or a heron.  Celebrate them.  Lavish them with praise.  Be in wonder. 
They are gifts of the season, the day, the moment, the food you ate, the
air you breathe, the things you’ve done or didn’t do, the things that happened to
you, or didn’t happen; they are fireflies; they are the feathers of owls after
the owl lifts and banks into the marsh. 
Mostly they will open you.  They
will open the windows of your heart and pour in life.  They will reveal you to yourself in that precise
moment in time, and then disappear with the winter wind.

So feel your
feelings.  Be with them in your
body.  Move with them (e-motion).  And give thanks for being alive.

Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog

On Love


Once upon a
time two seeds slept side by side deep in the earth all winter long.  One day, without warning, without a word, one
of the seeds awoke, aching for light.  It
nudged the other awake, and soon they were both thrumming with a deep,
luscious, hunger for light and warmth. 
They began unfolding, and as they did they disentangled into each other’s
arms, while simultaneously pushing through the darkness.  And there was darkness–long, silent moments
of blackness, of not knowing which way to turn, except into each other’s
embrace, and they would unfurl upwards blindly, mumbling little prayers into
one another’s palms.  They would travel
fine for a time and then hit walls, only to eventually wind their way around
them or through them.  They occasionally got
snagged by the roots of other trees, but managed to free
themselves by simply being themselves, and keep moving through the darkness.  One of the seedlings would uncurl a stem as
graceful as a dancer offering her hand to the sky, and the other would leave
room for the gesture to unfold.  One seed
would stream upwards with a rush of intensity, leaving the other seemingly
behind.  Yet they were woven together at
their core, and so as the one surged forward the other rose too.  One would tire and the other would carry them
both.  One would become overwhelmed by
the ever present blackness and need gentle encouragement to keep reaching
through the fear.  There was a give and
take of these two lovers of light that inspired the darkness to part before
them, to crumble down barriers, to open the gates to the sky.  And finally they emerged, breaking free of
the blindness of not knowing where they were going.  That no longer mattered.  They were a tiny forest of truth, and they
blessed one another with room, they gifted one another with space.  And while they continued to untwist into the
bright air, opening to the light, they reached and stretched towards one
another and towards the light, revealing more of themselves to themselves and
to one another and to the light.  They
unraveled into bloom, and the light wove through them like breath through flutes,
and the two seedlings became trees, and stood together hand and in hand,
holding the earth, holding the light, holding the memories of how they moved
through the darkness, regardless of their inclinations to stop, to fall back,
to swallow the night.  They held their triumphs
and little victories, and then let them bud into fruits and flowers for all to
see, for all to partake of the sweetness and fragrance of their innocence.  And the light.  The light crowned them with the dawn and the
moon, and draped garlands of stars over their shoulders, sent fireflies dancing
around them, sent birds singing through their boughs, children climbing through
their branches.   And they stood, side by side, looking deeper
into the ever unfolding sky.

Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog