Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Lesson of the Reef Tank

I thought I would share this with you all. It was written during a particularly dark time in my life and it carries a number of lessons with it. What I wrote here was born of a simple question asked of me by my dad. Many of you who know me, understand that I struggle with perfection and an often unattainable goal of it. With that in mind, know that I often start a blog post, returning to it several times for many edits prior to its being worthy of your eyes.

This answer was written straight out as an answer to the question. I feel that it was passed through me to the "paper". Call it "inspired" or perhaps God was giving me an answer. Hopefully you will allow me to reprint it here outside my normal snarky cynical posts.

(This was actually the reef that resided in my living room)

For years I had a reef tank.
I made time each night to check its temperature, its salinity.
I cleaned its glass to remove algae.
Once a week I did water changes to keep everything in balance.
I purchased new corals and fish to make it beautiful.
I fed those corals and fish the best food to keep them healthy.
It was the kind of thing that required attention and money.
I loved my reef tank. It was my most cherished possession.
Its beauty was a reflection of my time, money and energy.
I enjoyed having people over so that would admire the tank.

I began to let other things creep into my life and steal time from my tank.
Often the temperature and salinity would require larger fixes.
The glass became acceptable "a little dirty" and I would promise myself I would fix it the next night.
The once a week, 5 gallon water changes became every other week 10 gallon changes, which became, once a month 10 gallon water changes. The tank became unhappy with the wild swings in attention.
As the attention waned, the corals and fish began to look unhealthy and some died.
It was no longer beautiful.
The food that was so good for them was overfed in attempts to make up for the lack of attention.
As the tank became less happy and the inhabitants died, my attention became less.
It was still a reflection of the lack of time, lack of money and lack of attention I showed it.
I didn't want people to see it.
I realized that I couldn't fix it in a single long moment, but that it would take consistent, intentional extra time over months to slowly bring it back to the equilibrium that I had achieved before.

I Gave Up. The tank was broken down.

I only wish that I was referring to my tank.


  1. Well, damn, Scott. That was some post. It gave me chills and also has made me want to do some thinking of the reef tank of my own.

    have you done something about it? And, if not, are you planning to? 

    Great, thought-provoking and beautifully written. Waiting for Reef Tank II....

  2. Gee, thanks Susan. I have indeed listened to the epiphoniacal music. I make every day about "checking the temperature." I am much more consistent in my efforts toward equilibrium and harmony.

  3. People often over-look how much attention a "tank" requires, leaving it broken beyond repair.

    So do you still have the tank?

  4. I found that leaving the tank behind helped the "tank"

  5. Really enjoyed this post. New fan here :)

  6. Thanks, this is one of my favorite posts. It was originally penned during a bad time.




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