A mushroom, a fish and the true meaning of resilience

I was recently talking with a friend who shared an interesting story with me regarding a walk in the woods.

Going through a difficult period in her life she recounted how she would seek solace from the world by going on long walks in a forest by way of a mossy pathway.  One day while walking she noticed a red perfectly formed mushroom no larger than the size of a pin beneath her foot as she was about to take a step.  Unfortunately her foot came down on the delicate ruby spore and inadvertently crushed it.

For reasons that she still does not understand, she was heartbroken.

When she returned to the same pathway the following day, she looked for the same mossy patch where the mushroom had been, and discovered to her surprise that not only had the surrounding moss sprung back from her step, but the mushroom itself had come back in all its tiny yet brilliant form and color.

She then went on to explain that it was at that point that her spirits began to turn for the better as she realized that if the delicate mushroom could bounce back from the weight of her step, then she too could bounce back from the heaviness of the troubles that contributed to her depression.

While there have been ups and downs in her life since her walks in the forest, she has never looked back finding both comfort and strength in the resilience of her ruby red mushroom.

Her story got me to thinking . . . do I have a ruby red mushroom in my life?

For those who have followed me in both print and on the virtual airwaves of the Blog Talk Radio Network, you will undoubtedly be familiar with my story of achieving great success and wealth, only to lose it all   ̶   and I mean everything.

As difficult has that time had been, it did not compare to the emotional heartache of having to deal with Jennifer’s illness, which I recounted in the January 31st, 2011 blog post If She Knew What She Wants . . .

Reflecting on the challenges we have both faced and overcome together   ̶   Jennifer is an amazing woman who has beat the odds   ̶   I realized that over the past six months my ruby red mushroom is a goldfish named SofiaFishal.  Now I am not certain that Sofia is actually a “she,” but our 8 year old Savannah liked the name so is kind of stuck.

So why is this $1 fish so important?

When I sometimes can’t sleep at night, I find comfort in just watching her effortlessly swish around her bowl without a care in the world.  In the morning when I wake up and feed her, I always find her skipping in the water in anticipation of having her first meal of the day.  In short she makes me smile and in the process has become very important to me.  But there is more to it than that.

Like the mushroom this little, seemingly innocuous creature has to me come to symbolize resilience.  To start, SofiaFishal is the only 1 of 8 goldfish that survived for any period of time after being brought home.  The previous 7 didn’t make it past the 10 day mark despite multiple trips to the pet store and an array of aquatic supplies including a water conditioner for fish, that would make your head (and pocket book) spin.

Then, and prior to being moved to higher ground on a shelf in our bedroom, SofiaFishal had overcome numerous situations including both our 2 and 3 year old putting everything from hand cream to bars of soap into her former bowl.  I say former because the last incident before making the change to the safety of the higher shelf was when our son accidentally cracked the bowl in an effort to pet the fish.

The fact is that this little goldfish, who now calls an old coffee pot her home until her new tank is delivered, continues to happily thrive and survive despite being exposed to perils that were not of her own making.  If SofiaFishal can bounce back to beat the apparent odds of turbulent experiences so too can I!  At least this is what I came to realize when my friend shared her story of a walk in the woods and a chance encounter with a ruby red mushroom.

So tell me only because I have to ask . . . what is your mushroom or fish story?

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Story Update: A couple of months after this story was posted, I went to feed my gold fish and found that my spunky little friend about whom I wrote the above post, had moved on to that big sea in the sky . . . I am not sure how old SophiaFishal actually was but we had her for a little more than a year . . . calm seas my little golden friend . . . calm seas!

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