The Big Fish

In The Comfort Book, Matt Haig relates the story of the gold-saddle goatfish, a beautiful, golden fish with two large barbels, home to Hawaiian waters.

Local divers started noticing a fish of similar color, albeit much bigger. As it turns out, “when divers swim right next to this big fish, it stops being a big fish altogether, breaking up into eight or so standard-sized gold-saddle goatfish:” The fish had learned to swim in perfect, fish-looking formation in order to appear larger and scare away potential predators.

Besides an increased sense of inner peace and less resistance to change, be it elected or forced upon us, dropping our identity like a fish would drop its birth certificate has another benefit: When we’re not occupied with our own labels, we can focus on what we all have in common. We can join a cause and serve it selflessly. We are free to mingle with the crowd, no matter how diverse or unfamiliar it might be. “Oh, you like samosas? I like samosas!”

Life is better when we swim together. Not just to fend off external threats, but also to feel less alone. We are rarely the only ones chasing a certain goal or having a particular dream. Why not seek together instead of getting picked off by some predator along the way?