August 04, 2005

Bert and Community

I have a Betta fish named Bert. He lives in a vase with a plant on my desk. (I know, I know, cruel and unusual fish treatment but I didn't know that when he moved in and well...) Bert is almost 2. (so probably 2 1/2 since he came from a pet store) Bert has always seemed to be a pretty happy fellow for a Betta fish. At my original desk he was privy to being visited by everyone who came down the hall. He enjoyed this interaction quite a bit. Then I was moved for several weeks to a cubicle which he didn't seem to like as well. No good place for him to watch me, no good place for him to enjoy his admirers, so not his thing. Now I have my own office(with a window and a door I hear chanted in my family is a little sick of hearing about this...)and Bert has a nice place where he can hover and watch me type. This does seem to interest him, but there aren't so many walk-by visitors.

Bert has been doing something interesting the past few days. He often does interesting things but this of course is something that connected in my mind with community and blogging. Bert, being a Betta, rarely swims around and around and around. He hovers. He does swim up when someone bends to see him and he does swim over to watch me type. The last few days he has been doing this odd thing where he goes and tangles himself in the plant roots, hangs out there for a while, then practically FOLDS himself in half to slither out. At first I thought he was getting stuck which seemed odd since he has never done that before, so I would take his plant out. He usually would give me his baleful Bert look not unlike my children when I do something dumb. (hey, what is a community post without some anthropomorphism? If we can have Friday Felines, we certainly can have baleful bert)After a few of these 'rescues', I noticed that much like a cat in a tree, he got in there, he can get out.

I think a blog can be very much like a pretty fish bowl on a desk. It is a great place to hang out. You can build a routine, a community of visitors, and life is good. You are excited when folks drop by...swim over to see them as it happens.(I could bring in the surfing metaphor but fish are enough for now.) But ultimately small. Sometimes, you get stuck. You might accidentally get stuck the first time, glad for a hand in your community giving advice or more. Then you might just decide you like hanging out stuck in your cave. It is a nice friendly nest after all. You can leave it for a breath of air but then it is back to your tangle of roots. Pretty soon your community doesn't want to come see you, rescue you, either. It is no fun after a while to watch someone in a tangle when you know they can get out, but don't.

All it really takes though is to stretch, find, maybe bend in half, to remember the why and what makes internet community so essentially important. Sort of like clean water in your fish bowl.

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Lee said...

lord, first the legos and now this...y'all are killing me so early in the morning...tell Bert hello for me and just out of curiousity - where is Ernie?

TW said...

There is no Ernie. What can I say. He picked his name. Took him a long time to share it with me, but I let him choose.

Shelly said...

Great post it wasn't until the end that it all made sense :) but its the morning and I am medicated so it might have just been me.

Can we ever see a picture of this Bert? He sounds like a perfect fit for you!

TW said...

In a house with probably 6 digital cameras, I don't own one of the ones that works. Maybe some day.

Chiara Fox said...

I used to have a beta fish named Harold. Then I got a second beta fish, so I named him Mod (they lived in separate tanks). Harold had much more of a personality than Mod does. He used to like to play dead. He'd stuff himself into a corner, or between the rocks and his plant and just float there. Sometimes he would lie sideways and just float. It really freaked out friends of mine who took care of him.

When I moved to Berkeley, Harold and Mod of course came with me. I think Harold must have been a closet republican though - he didn't last long once we got her and is now swimming in the big ocean in the sky. Poor Harold.

You make a good point though - about getting stuck, and choosing to stay stuck, and so on.

I'm stuck right now - but I'm not sure if I'm ready to swim free or not.

TW said...

I know where you are coming from Chiara. That finding the motivation and impulse to swim free is hard sometimes. Sometimes it is just a sign to change the water though. Hmmm Bert the Philosopher Fish. Good luck getting unstuck and thanks for stopping by!