There is a breed of people swimming in the ocean of life called the ‘Gotto fish,’ though it is best pronounced “Got to.”
There is always something for them to do; there is always somewhere they need to be.
“I’ve just ‘gotto’ do something for work” one would say before running off from his wife and children.
“I’ve just ‘gotto’ get this done around the house,” another would say before they might actually stop for long enough to deeply connect with others or themselves.
They can relax by switching off when they “Just gotto watch TV, just gotto catch up with a friend.” They can recharge when they “Just gotto grab a cup of coffee, just gotto grab a snack” and when they are really, really tired, they rely heavily on “Just gotto get this finished.”
They would say they move through life easily enough, but in reality there is little real ease in their movement. Each time their body comes to a rest, something kicks in that either requires a complete switch off or the next ‘gotto’ task to be completed.
The ‘gotto fish’ are driven by anxiety and nervous energy: a type of fuel that prizes movement over presence and switching off over connection. Even though they can get amazing amounts of work done, the reality is that living this way is draining.
Yet most are raised by other ‘gotto fish,’ so living in this way is so familiar and common that they never really see that anything is wrong.
For one ‘gotto fish’ life was becoming too hard to keep living in this way. He had become tired to a point where no amount of sweets, caffeine or alcohol could boost him for long enough. His health suffered, even though he had studied all manner of complementary and energetic therapies. His relationships suffered because there was no way of having a conversation that didn’t start from this point of anxiety.
He was committed to getting it right but couldn’t keep swimming through life this way. The hard part was finding another way to move through life, which was a quest he had been on for a number of years, but to little effect. On one level the ‘gotto fish’ became quite depressed.
“Surely there is another way to be?” he asked from a place deep within.
The interesting thing about life is that when you ask a question from this deeper place, life has a way of responding. Not everyone asks the question in this way and not everyone acts on the answers they get, but thankfully this ‘gotto’ fish was open when the answer came.
He came across the ‘Universal Fish,’ a wise fish who has swum the waters of life for many, many years. There was nothing the Universal Fish had not seen, done or tried, yet there was a twinkle in his eye and an ease to how he moved.
The Universal Fish suggested to him that his anxiety and drive to always be on the move was not where the issue started – that we only become anxious or use nervous energy as a form of fuel when we lack one thing… connection to ourselves.
The Universal Fish explained to him that connection was first and foremost an energetic connection. Anxiety in fact was simply our body’s way of letting us know that we are not connected. “It’s a bit like a car driving on the edge of the road – it will feel bumpy, because we are not meant to be driving there, but if you have never learnt to drive in the middle of the lane, it will feel normal,” the Universal Fish said one day.
The Universal Fish encouraged him to explore not only energetic connection but the different qualities of energy that we might connect to. “Anxiety comes from one form of energetic connection,” the Universal Fish offered.
The Universal Fish introduced him to the Gentle Breath MeditationTM, explaining that it was a way of establishing a connection not just to energy but to a deeper part of ourselves. It was a way to find a place within that was deeper than the anxiety and nervousness.
The ‘gotto’ fish didn’t instantly like this kind of meditation: he would wriggle, itch, twitch and move as he tried to practise the technique. Not only that, when he did become more still he would begin to feel things within that were both beautiful and unsettling.
Then over time, he began to feel gentleness and for the first time in a long time he felt connected to himself – his true self. He learnt that the issues he had been running from for much of his life were driving his anxiousness, and that understanding and working on this gave his body a feeling of more space. The ‘gotto’ fish got help and worked with people that swam through life with that same gentleness he was connecting to.
The Gentle Breath MeditationTM was not a way of escaping life but building enough honesty and room in his body for the gentleness to grow. Over time he found that his body was capable of swimming with enough gentleness that he began to move through the waters of life with stillness. He had a smile on his face, enjoying the feeling of moving in stillness.
Nowadays, the only thing he ‘gotto’ to do is stay connected to himself. He’s not mastered it yet, but when he stays connected to this, the rest of life takes care of itself and anxiousness is no longer what drives him.
By Joel Levin