Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Ballad of the Tree-Climbing Fish

I love stumbling upon something - whether on-line or elsewhere - that upon reading it makes me smile and nod my head in appreciation of its wisdom and its practical application to everyone's day-to-day. Yesterday I had just such a wonderful stumble, courtesy of my old friend Dave Lackland.

The title of today's piece is rather hamhandedly co-opted from an Albert Einstein quote that Dave shared on-line yesterday. I have no recollection of ever having seen it or read it anywhere until Mr. Lackland opened my eyes - and my brain - to it. The quote in its original (non-screwed with) glory is, "Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."

If need be, read it to yourself more than once. Allow it to sink in.

Now, if you are half the ass that I am, engage yourself in a bit of honest, unflattering self-examination and add up the number of people you have encountered thus far on your journey who you have judged in just such a manner. And then if you are itching for a reason to feel sorry for yourself, permit yourself to admit just how many times to date YOU have been the tree-climbing fish in the eyes of another. The neat thing about living in a round world. Eventually that which goes around, comes around.

But maybe - just maybe - old AE meant to inspire us to do something more. To do something a bit better than simply keep our guard up and our eyes open (better to see those things that are coming 'round). I am as guilty as most - perhaps more than most in fact - of permitting my cynicism to shape the prism through which I see the world and the other humans who occupy it. As I mentioned to someone just the other day, I am rarely surprised and regularly disappointed. Maybe, just maybe, that is on me and not on anyone else.

And maybe just maybe a lesson is to be learned here from the great Samuel Clemens, "Don't tell fish stories where the people know you; but particularly, don't tell them where they know the fish." Even the tree-climbing fish has a friend out there somewhere, supporting his best efforts and assessing him fairly.

Albert Einstein was a ladies' man/While he was working on his universal plan/He was making out like Charlie Sheen/He was a genius.

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