Years ago when my daughter was still very young, she persuaded me to get her some goldfish. It took her several weeks to convince me that she would be responsible and take good care of the fishes. She promised that she would feed them, change the water, and clean the bowl. So, we went out one Saturday afternoon to the aquarium and picked out three little goldfishes, a fishbowl, some pebbles and glass marbles, a few water plants, and a small aerator.

We spent the afternoon cleaning the bowl, rinsing the pebbles and marbles, and getting the fishbowl ready. By dinner time, we had three happy little goldfishes swimming in the fishbowl, darting between the water plants as tiny bubbles streamed mysteriously from between the brightly coloured marbles. I even went out and go her a light fixture that would cause the water and bubbles to sparkle. All in all we had a very pretty little fishbowl and three very contented little fishes.

For the next few weeks, my daughter (she refused to let me use her name in this story and threatened bodily harm if I did) delighted in her little aquarium. She would spend hours observing each little goldfish and had given a name to each. She would talk to them, carrying on long, deep, and lively conversations. She had friends over to see her aquarium.

As she had promised, she fed the fishes once a day making sure that their tummy tum-tums were happy. She changed the water and cleaned the fishbowl changing the water and taking meticulous care to arrange the pebbles, marbles, water plants, and aerator hose just right.

Soon, she began to save her weekly allowances to purchase more accessories and decorations for her fishbowl. A little water wheel came first, spinning happily around as the bubbles rose from the bottom. Then a replica of a piece of driftwood with holes through which the goldfish could swim (they never did). A little mermaid’s castle was next followed by prate’s treasure chest. Soon the little fishbowl was getting quite crowded.

One day, several months later, a very sad and tearful little girl greeted me at the door. Her precious little goldfish had all died. Taking me by the hand she led me sadly to her room to show me the terrible thing that had happened. Someone had killed her precious little friends.

In her room we found the scene of the diabolical crime. All three little gold-fishes were floating belly up in the fishbowl. All it took was one look for me to realize what happened. My dear little daughter had filled the bowl with so many things that there was hardly enough water for the fishes to swim in. She had added a whole lot more coloured glass marbles and these together with all her new additions left no more than half a bowl of clear water for the fishes.

I really did not have the heart to tell her that she was the cause of their untimely demise, but I had to because I knew that we would have to get her some new goldfishes and I did not want her to go through another heartbreak. Patiently and gently, I set her on my lap and explained to her that her little friends died because the bowl was too full of stuff and they did not have enough water to swim in.

Sadly she cried, “But daddy the bowl looked so pretty and I thought that it would make my fishies happier.”

We went out that very evening and got her three more goldfish and a larger fishbowl and I am happy to say that these lived to a ripe old age.

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(moral: the fish bowl is our lives and if we fill it with too many things then we suffer by not being able to move freely and suffocate our souls.)



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