A month ago my aquarium was teeming with longtime inhabitants swimming playfully in a vibrant aquatic community. My aquarium was wonderful. Why not make it even better by adding more multi-hued fish? Soon after adding new residents, guppy fry were born. Even greater success!
Then the decline began. I realized I had added too many fish too fast. The ecosystem was overwhelmed with the amount of waste, and the most vulnerable perished.
Every few days I changed out some of the water. I added a bit of baking soda to restore alkalinity and stabilize the ph. The water quality was soon the best in had been in months. And more fish died.
Yes, the water was nearly perfect. But in my haste to get it right, I had not given the fish enough time to acclimate to the improved environment. While their liquid haven was vastly superior, their little bodies were unable to adjust to the radical shift.
I sense the aquarium is echoing the wisdom I sense being offered me by my deceased loved ones when I see their photos on my altar: "Stop trying so hard."
What am I trying so hard to do?
I'm trying to silence my inner critic's proclamations that I'm not enough, haven't fulfilled my potential, and need to try harder and do more. My ego says that I'm special. I came to this life with special gifts, and it is my responsibility to use those gifts to improve the world.
I look around, and the world looks no better than when I arrived five decades ago. What have I done to make it better? What have I truly accomplished? What will finally prove that I've fulfilled my destiny and potential? I don't know, but if I try harder, get one more thing done, fix one more problem, then maybe I'll feel peace and contentment. But trying so hard has made me less peaceful, less content.
What I'm realizing is that peace and contentment are the starting point, not the end goal. When I soften, when I stop trying so hard, a clarity in my spine that is both solid and gentle, warming my heart and ascending upward into my head where it pulsates a spacious presence.
In this space, I'm no longer responsible for saving the world. Instead what's present is a deep knowing of Loving Being that cannot be enhanced or made whole by trying harder.
Wholeness is already given. This is who I am. This is my destiny. This is my potential.
As for the world, and as for the aquarium that is an entire world for my fish, my worth is not dependent on saving them. In fact, proving worth is a silly game. Worth, like our true essence, is a given, and any feeling or message to the contrary is false.
Identifying with that essence is peace and contentment. There never was a world to save. That's the ego talking. There is only a loving presence from which to respond moment by moment in real time.
Starting from inner contentment and peace, I embody a salvation that will accomplish everything necessary in this lifetime. I lovingly take care of my fish day by day without needing to save them or make them more than they are.
Released from the need to try harder, I love bodily and appreciate the beauty of now. I'm free to respond with grace midst hardship. Without a world to save, I am free to be myself.
Peace and contentment. Love and beauty. There's really nothing more to do or be.