Living in the the tropics definitely has both its up-side and its challenges. This urbanized jungle near the equator contains a variety of creatures, fauna and flora, that I never witnessed in the wild growing up in the US. In fact, just yesterday, a family of monkeys decided to swing by and say hello, much to my dog Rollo’s chagrin. Mom, dad and baby monkey scaled our fence and pilfered a few mangoes along the way. Not your typical Norman Rockwell scene, but lovely nonetheless.
Fortunately, these morning explorers stuck to raiding the trees for their breakfast. One of my Singapore friends recently relayed the story of how a handful of adventurous monkeys decided that the apples and mangoes inside the fruit bowl in her house looked more appetizing. Apparently, these monkeys can be troublesome.
It can be true in a metaphorical sense as well. In the late 1980’s, when Aerosmith sung “Monkey on My Back,” they were referencing their battle with drug abuse and addiction. The more common general use of the expression, however, is simply “something that bothers a person or won’t go away.” Those troublesome “monkeys.”
So, it now strikes me as interestingly coincidental that someone recently referred to me as a fish living and succeeding in a world of monkeys. There is a saying by Einstein that goes something like: “Everybody is a Genius. But If You Judge a Fish by Its Ability to Climb a Tree, It Will Live Its Whole Life Believing that It is Stupid.” Maybe “stupid” is a bit too harsh or extreme, but, still, there is something that resonates. Perhaps the monkey on my back is the judgment that I placed on myself when trying to climb the trees and emulate the other monkeys around me. Maybe, my true nature was always as a fish – a fish, that, over time, learned tree-climbing skills, but never felt quite complete.
Please don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to give the impression that I think these particular “monkeys” are troublesome. In fact, there should be no judgment on the value of either – whether self judgment or judgment of others. Our world needs both monkeys and fish to thrive. It is, rather, a recognition that we need to understand and appreciate who we are and what we bring to the table first and foremost. Then, as fish, we can learn, or at the very least try to understand, what it takes to climb a tree and, as monkeys, to swim. That’s a core element in the TOSO concept after all!
Gotta go shut my sliding glass doors…I think I hear some monkeys outside.