Lessons From a Goldfish


Sammie the Goldfish is six years old. My sister-in-law purchased a bunch of feeder fish for décor for a party in 2006. That next year, she gave him to my kids. Feeder goldfish usually die on the way home from the carnival in their plastic bag, right?

They don’t live for six years.

Soon after we got Sammie, the kids decided to feed him about a ½ a bottle of fish food. Did you know goldfish are gluttons? They eat and eat, given the chance, and inhale air, swelling up their bellies and turning them upside down. We learned this the night that we were going to flush him. My husband googled “sick goldfish”, gathered these facts, and learned we should try starving him for 3-5 days.

Over the course of those days he deflated and slowly turned right side up again and began happily swimming around his bowl.

I swear this fish swims to the side of his tiny little bowl with a smile when we approach to feed him. He swims about all day, digging in his rocks, going from top to bottom, side to side, nothing more. When the bowl gets a little too dirty because we are too busy, he seems to slow down a bit; when the water is fresh he has a burst of energy.

Sammie’s time in our family coincides with a six year roller coaster ride for me and my husband. The recession hit us very hard financially, many hopes were dashed, career dreams have fallen to pieces more than once, and change has been a constant. Our marriage has been strained and our bodies and minds are tired. In other words…lots and lots of exhausting stress.

We remain infinitely grateful and blessed that none of this has been catastrophic. Our kids are healthy. We still have our home, and we accept that our choices have contributed to our experience. We are making progress back to a better place, but like so many in our situation, we have to work at staying positive during these challenging times.

So back to Sammie The Goldfish. Some years ago, sitting quiet in front of his bowl watching him swim, I jotted these notes down on a piece of paper, thinking I might write about it one day. These Lessons from a Goldfish are my Truth Be Told in a Minute.

1. Life will turn you upside now and again. Especially if you over-indulge in bad decision making. Be patient and do what you need to heal. You will turn right-side up again.

2. No matter how tiny your fishbowl, it can be a joyful place. Enjoy what you have, be grateful for your space.

3. If your fishbowl gets cloudy and you know that’s why you are lacking energy…clean it! Clean out whatever it is that isn’t energizing your soul.

4. Always expect the best. Sammie the Feeder fish has lived 6+ years, and we sure didn’t expect him to. But why the heck not? We all need to expect good things can happen to us more often.



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About the Author | Lisa Simpson

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