My beta’s name is Bae/Bey—or just plain Beyonce when I'm feeling sassy. And changing Bae's water is not something I was taught in kindergarten or college. It wasn’t a question on the SAT, Myers Briggs, or Strengthsfinder.
Some things in life, you’re just not prepared for—or very good at. Some things you just muddle through. Changing the water in Bae’s bowl, and changing myself, are two examples of this.
Where do I store Bae while I clean out the bowl? How do I make sure not to fry her in water too warm, or freeze her in water too cold? Do I throw out the dirty water in my kitchen sink? How do I really clean the rocks?
Some things you’re not taught.
Who am I, really? What do I need to “be me”? What is healthy in this moment? Who is healthy in this moment? What does it mean to balance a budget, pay back debt, and have meaningful community? Can I be alone?
And what if I can’t answer these questions in the next five minutes?
This stuff takes time, and it’s a little scary to learn. Because I didn’t know, at first, how to be gentle with Bae—or myself. And the thing about fish care—or self care—is that you can't expect someone else to do it for you. (And stop saying you don't need to do it for yourself.)
Changing things will get messy, and it’ll feel scary.
But one brisk Monday, while you're baking cookies and watching Grey’s Anatomy, it'll become a bit clearer. The process will feel a little more fluid, and you’ll handle it all with a little more ease. Changing the water won’t feel as nerve-wracking, or momentous; it won’t instill fear or dread in you. You won’t worry about hurting Bae/Bey, or losing yourself, in the “changing”. You'll understand that certain things and feelings are temporary.
One Monday night, you’ll start to change things—and it won’t feel like killing. One Monday night, it’ll feel something like cleaning; renewing; restoring.
It’ll feel like learning - both for yourself, and for Bae.
In regards to the attacks in Brussels today, along with the many other attacks and losses we don't hear about in the media (even in our own states and streets), thoughts and prayers to the victims and families - both those named and those unseen - are great.
But we must also remember: we each have a duty, in whatever space we find ourselves, to care and show compassion to the people around us; to acknowledge the humanity in our newest friend, and even our greatest enemy. When the world shudders at deep evil, let's stand in bravery and care for one another, and not concede the truth that is this: With kindness we may not win the battle, but - even if it's only existential and philosophical - we always win the war.
Live your story, and empower others in theirs. Sometimes, that's what "fighting evil" tangibly means.