What We Can Learn From Siamese Fighting Fish
I’ve always been fascinated by sea creatures. Whenever I see a tank or a pond, I immediately wonder if there is any life in it. The varied colors, shapes and sizes never fail to attract me, and I would always make it a point to stay by the water for a while and wait for at least one fish to come by. I dip my pointer finger in the water, move it around a bit until ripples form and slightly move the fish toward me. These creatures get attracted by movement and slight changes in the environment around them.
Last week, my friend and dorm mate Ena invited me over to her room where she’s keeping one Siamese fighting fish. It was a project they had to do for Marine Science class and I was so glad she asked me to take care of it over the weekend.
Siamese fighting fish are one of the most attractive fish one can see inside a freshwater aquarium. They vary in color from orange to blue and have these really attractive fins that flow from their bodies like angel’s wings.
I once read a booklet about the social intelligence of fishes and the article included something about Siamese fighting fish behavior when it comes to mating. A research was done by putting two male fish and one female fish together in a single bowl. The nature is for these two male fish to fight, especially with a female around. In the research, when the fight was over, the winner confidently approached the female and started trying to mate her. The loser wasn’t as confident so he was just swimming around. When a new female was put in the bowl, the loser knew she didn’t witness the fight so he swam up to her and spent a lot of time around her. Adorable, isn’t it? And hardly not very far from how humans think, I believe.
My confidence has this proclivity to become shallow and unfounded. I am happy when I’ve accomplished something and when I can say that I have been ‘successful’. On more unfortunate occasions, I would feel a pang of sadness and prefer being alone without anyone knowing about my failures. Upon expressing my thoughts to a few male and female friends, I figured that I am not alone in the way I measure my identity.
Humans use track records for generating new accomplishments and forging new relationships. When someone who is more accomplished (especially in the areas we deem ourselves good) comes by, we shrink to a Siamese fighting fish that has just lost a fight – we swim in the water with no exact destination in mind and we wait for someone new to come so we feel better and pretend we’re a winner.
We forget that in the first place we are beautiful and vibrant and our fins are as flowy as those of the ones we have fought before. We let our circumstances – temporary, superficial and honestly surmountable – define who we are and dictate where we ought to go. We misplace our confidence, so that it easily comes and goes. The changing tides coupled with ‘better catch’ can wash it away too soon.
We have to go back to who we are created to be – beautiful and vibrant outside others’ existence. Our self-esteem, if we choose, can come from a single, identifiable, never-changing source.
Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. 2 Corinthians 3:4
Beautiful, isn’t it?