I spent all of today hauling dead bodies.
Ok, not hauling, but picking up.
Right, maybe I’m being a tad over-dramatic? Because the dead in this case are fish.
Tiny, and aptly named mosquito rasboras, the pink-red-black adults grow no more than 3/4 inch.
Quite a few have died since last night, though the others don’t look sick.
As I picked up each floating, spiraling body from my 4ft aquarium, I wondered how life and death are relative…and if a life is a life, any life.
If a fish’s life is not as important as that of a human, is it merely because in the grand scheme of creation, the death of a human makes a bigger difference than that of a fish? Or any other tiny creature?
I hear that life on our planet would survive very well indeed if humans as a species turned extinct. If, on the other hand, all the bees on our planet dies out, or all the insects, life on our blue ball might be in peril.
If my pet dog dies, I’ll be very sad. If a stray dies, not so much. If someone I love/ care for dies, I’ll be devastated. If a stranger on the other side of the world dies, it would be a blip on my screen. If it is a celebrity, I would be sadder. If the stranger is infamous, like Osama, I would be curious, but not really very sad.
So, my reaction to death varies with who/ what dies.
If I loved all the tiny rasboras in my aquarium personally, each death would kill a part of me. Seeing that they are one of many, and I have no particular bond with each of them, I just calmly get up, fish out the dead fish, and flush it.
Sadness at death is proportional to the level of attachment. Lesson learned from the dying/dead fish.
For the time being, the most immediate problem is figuring out what exactly is wrong with my aquarium.
But somewhere, I must squirrel away the lesson at the back of my head. I have lost loved ones before, and will (sadly, but inevitably) lose more. Or I might realise that it is my turn to be lost.
That would be good time to unwrap the lesson, and put it to use. Nothing can make the death of my rasboras worthwhile, but I’ll settle for a lesson.
Such is life. And death.