Several weeks ago, I had the privilege of dog-sitting two miniature schnauzer puppies for a friend of mine who was going away. Confronted with the thought of having two little fluff balls to play and snuggle with for a week – who would say no?
As expected, we had a wonderful week together. We went for long walks in the park, saying hello and sniffing more dogs than I can remember (that is, the puppies were doing the sniffing, not me). We played with squeaky toys, we munched on biltong (their mum was very generous with the snacks she left behind), and at night we all snuggled in bed and woke up each morning in a furry cuddle puddle, a highly recommended way to wake up on chilly winter mornings!
As well as having all the furry, licking, exuberant benefits of two very enthusiastic puppies, I also jumped at the chance of having a large house all to myself for seven days. I love my little house, but it is snug. I thought it would be heavenly to have some space to roam around in, as well as the luxury of being able to choose between multiple bedrooms to sleep in and three showers in which to sing.
My first night in the house felt a little odd.To be expected, I thought, as I was still settling in. But then the second night rolled around, and the third, and I still felt uneasy in the house (despite rapturous yapping welcomes from the pups every time I came home from work).
Instead of luxuriating in the airy lounge or even enjoying a glass of wine on the patio while the puppies played, I quickly made dinner, locked up downstairs and settled myself and the doggies in my bedroom upstairs with a book for company. Somehow, only when the door was closed and we were all ensconced inside, did things feel “right”.
What a waste of a beautiful big house, I kept telling myself, but after three days it finally struck me – I am a goldfish!
When we were at school we were told that goldfish only grow as big as the bowl or tank they are in allows. It’s quite ingenious really, because that way there’s never any chance that they’ll outgrow their digs.
And now, it seems, while I haven’t physically grown to fit the size of my little house, mentally I have. I have got used to its cosy rooms and economical use of space, and its snugger “fit” has come to feel like home. In a way, that makes me really happy. I can’t help feeling that a lot of what is wrong with the world is its rampant consumerism and the need for people to acquire more and more things and take up more and more space.
Over the years, I have come to realise that the fewer things you have, the less you have to worry about. I have also come to realise that we don’t actually need a lot of the “stuff ” we accumulate.
What we do need though – at least I do – is big skies. When I was living in Japan, I came to understand the wonderful gift we have in this country of BIG skies. Wide open spaces, huge horizons and the room to breathe. With this comes the urge to explore and the perpetual feeling that there is always something out there to discover.
We are so lucky living here to have so much space! Now, if only, we could all move towards the mindset of reducing the amount of space we each take up, or obsessively want to own, and instead revel in the beautiful open spaces we can all explore. I think there’d be a whole lot of much happier South African goldfish if that were the case.
Happy big sky discoveries!