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Life And The Minnow Pool

by Mary Mills

When I was small there weren't many children who lived close enough for me to play with them on a daily basis. On the other hand, I had my two sisters. We grew up in the country on a dirt road that quit just yards shy of a creek. Occasionally we would ask a parent for permission to go to the creek to play, but we usually just wandered around until... Surprise, we’re at the creek!

Though my sisters and I were almost always the only people around when we were playing in the spring-fed water, there were always creatures with whom to interact. Tiny minnows could be herded like geese into a specially dug pool. Sometimes we would compete to see who could get the most minnows in our individual pools, and no fair interfering with another's roundup!

Stealing minnows was a no-no, almost as bad as damaging a sandcastle. If you were sneaky and lucky, you could find a hungry crawdad and stealthily drop it in your sister’s pool. That was always good for at least one less fish.

We were always careful to “open the gates” to let the minnows back into the main stream when we were finished. Even at that young age, we knew that they couldn’t live long as captives in our small, shallow pools. They were a precious resource to us and, if we wasted them, they wouldn’t be there the next time we wanted to play.

Humans can be a bit like minnows. They can be tricked or frightened into traps that can smother or starve them. Like the minnow, a person may not recognize the peril before becoming too weak to escape. Some people prefer the safety of a stifling, shallow job or other familiar, but unfulfilling, situation to the dangers of leaping headlong into the unknown.

Yet, some few people, like some minnows, are unwilling to be trapped. They struggle until, flipping and flopping across the dangerous sand, they reach the freedom of open water. Safe? Of course not, but free to be the minnow or person they were meant to be.

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