Last week I was having a look around in the university library near my apartment. I was looking for a particular book on psychology that was recommended to me by a friend, but I wasn’t having any luck. I had been looking for a few hours. And I really wasn’t interested in findingÂ anything else, I was ready to give up hope. I had scanned the medical section several times, as it was a book on clinical psychology. I was really depressed. You know you get. When you start to wonder if you will ever find what you are looking for. Not only do you start to feel depressed because you can’t find what you are looking for, you start to wonder what else you could have been doing with your time that you’ve wasted. Normally I love going to the library, because there so many fascinating things you can find there, but not that day. I felt like some goldfish stuck in a dirty fishbowl that keeps swimming around hoping to find a way out.
I went to the new aquarium downtown, and they have some interesting fish. They have these fish that eat small fish like things, then have these bigger fish that eat actual fish, then they have fish so big that they need to feed them chunks of meat. There was one fish tank that had several fish of different sizes. I don’t know if they were different ages, or something else, but I’m pretty sure they were the same species, because they all had the same blue and silver design on their sides. It was really interesting to watch them being fed. The guy would come in at the same time every day, and throw in a bunch of food, which I think he said were dried squid flakes or something. And the fish would scramble and crash into one another as they would fight for the food. The cool thing was, the smallest fish never seemed to give up. He always seemed to keep trying regardless of how many times he got bumped out of the way. It was like he knew that if he was able to keep trying, he would get what he was after.
He (or she, I’m not sure how to tell boy fish from girl fish) reminded me of a professor I had at university. He was a math professor, but he was very opinionated in matters other than math. He said the difference in life between winners and losers has nothing to do with intelligence or upbringing, or social skills or anything that you’d normally think of. He said that winners are the people that simply never give up. Losers always find a reason to stop trying, while winners always find a reason to keep trying. He kept mentioning this old Chinese proverb: “If you wait by the riverside long enough, you will see the bodies of your enemies floating by.” I’m not sure if I wanted to see the bodies of my enemies, but it was an interesting point. He kept telling us that winners know that failure is only one step closer to success, and in reality, there is no failure if you alwasy learn something. Interesting thought.
And it turns out that particular brand of fish is the kind where there are literally hundreds born in every litter (or whatever they call a bunch of baby fish) but only three or four survive. It’s natures way of making sure that only the fittest live long enough to make more fish. So that little fish, simply by staying alive and fighting for what he wanted, was proving to the world how worthy he thought he was.
Finally, a really nice receptionist asked me if I was looking for something in particular. The only reason it took her so long to ask me was the incredible scowl on my face. It turned out that somebody had misplaced that particular book, and had filed it downstairs in the engineering department. Had she not asked me, I would never have found it.