Death is fascinating.
Don't you think?
One moment you're here and the next moment there is a complete absence of that life-force we called you.
An analogy of fish in a pond always comes to mind when I consider this aspect of our existence.
I think I was introduced to it in Michio Kaku's book, Parallel Worlds. Not surprisingly, though, his version was to explain parallel universes. Below, I've tried to create a fable around this idea of fish in a pond, but in relation to death and dying.
I hope you enjoy it.
The Fish that Leapt
The fish thought they knew everything there was to know about their pond. It was their world. Their universe. They spent their time swimming around, getting to know it as much as they could. To discover and to know was built into their very character - it stopped them from feeling lost.
Occasionally they learnt something new, only for it to be a building block for future discoveries, but still, they thought they were making progress. Anything that was unknown to them was their main source of fear - again, another reason to know as much as they could. So with this in mind, there was one thing they knew "for certain" and that was The surface is very dangerous and needs to be avoided at all cost. This came about because many fish had left via the surface and never came back, causing much grief and heartache.
There were myths and legends of monsters that hung around the wavy ceiling, ready to swallow up any fish that hung around for too long. These stories were intentionally built into them when they were young enough to understand fear.
One day, a brave fish swam close to the surface and took a deeper look. He wanted to know what all the fuss and fear was about. He was the rebellious type and therefore hung around for quite some time. He saw things shimmering and heard sounds that were far richer than he had ever heard before. His curiosity was aroused so much that he decided to risk all that he knew and take a leap of faith.
He jumped up, into the surface and glimpsed something life-changing.
He landed back into the pond with a splash, the rest of the fish having no idea of what just happened.
'This isn't all there is! I knew it!' he said. 'There is more out there, beyond the surface! I've just seen it!'
The fish that leapt told all who wanted to know and all who would listen, that the world existed far beyond the boundaries of the pond. He warned them though that if they were there for too long, he was certain that they wouldn't be able to come back to swim. He could tell by the way his breathing was affected.
This fish was obviously ridiculed by many and was considered a bit crazy... anybody who stretches perception is always treat like this by those who prefer their minds to remain narrow.
Those fish who actually listened to him, took it upon themselves to carry out their own research of and around the surface. Some looked deep into their past and saw that such experiences had been very common for millenia. One by one, their fear of the surface began to diminish.
It still left the issue of what would happen to them if they stayed beyond the veil for too long. Not a single fish had ever returned to tell their story.
Their patience was about to be rewarded.
A young fish fell ill. He was loved by all and all believed he would get better. Young fish are full of life with a future full of infinite possibilities - he had to get better. But he didn't. He went 'up there' (as the fish often said) and his mum, who was so distraught, and grieved so much, jumped through the surface on her own accord.
Can you imagine how shocked the whole community must have been? They couldn't believe she would do such a thing.
A broken heart can cause a fish to do things that even time can't fix.
It was now that something miraculous happened: To the mum's amazement, she landed in another pond!
It looked very similar to the pond she had grown accustomed to, but the water was crystal clear and the surface shimmered more beautifully than she had ever known.
It didn't take long for her to hear a familiar voice - a voice she believed would never touch her soul again.
'Mum! Mum! What are you doing here?'
And out of the depths of this new pond came her son, embracing her, telling her that he was alright.
'Mum, you have to go back,' he explained, 'it's not your time.'
Obviously she didn't want to leave him, but he showed her other fish that would look after him: friends and family that went through the surface a long time ago. She looked at them in amazement whilst holding her son. 'Mum. Dad. Nan. Grandad.You're all here...,' she said.
'You see, Mum, I'm not alone. I'm OK.'
He told her she had to jump back through the surface. At first she refused, but he begged her to go. He told her she had unfinished business to take care of and more lessons to learn.
There was something within her that knew he was right and she agreed to go back.
She gave him one last squeeze before she leapt.
She splashed back into the old pond, with the familiar sounds and the familiar faces. She was happy to see them because she brought with her news.
She told all the fish that her son was safe and that when her time came she would see him once again. In fact, she said, they all would.
'But where is he?' asked a young fish.
She looked up, smiling. 'He's right there, beyond the surface.'