by Kathy Bone
I recently read an article about the Georgia Aquarium, which opened this past November in Atlanta and was amazed to find how spectacular and popular the Aquarium has become. Housed in downtown Atlanta, the Aquarium has almost exceeded 2 million visitors, a goal originally anticipated to have been met by its first anniversary. Now with the Aquarium’s surging popularity driving the helm, this ship-shaped building has taken on a life of its own. On a daily basis the Aquarium is visited by nearly 10,000 people. Housing the world’s largest indoor fish tank, it has also become a gathering place for weddings, parties, and bar mitzvahs. Between 4,000 to 6,000 people can be in the building at any given time, and advance tickets must be purchased to keep from waiting in long lines. Hours of operation have been moved back to 8:00 a.m. and stretched so that closing isn’t until 8:00 p.m. on certain days in answer to consumer demand. Venturing indoors you will find a spectacular fish show which includes a giant Pacific octopus and penguin exhibit as well as an up front and personal view of a beluga whale.
We go to places like these to get in touch with nature and glimpse life other than we know it. We stand mesmerized, looking from the outside in, watching life as it passes us by one swish of a tail at a time. I’m reminded of an etching by an old Art School friend. Envision, if you will, a fish bowl. In it, and this is not where you say I see a fish. Oh no, in it is a cat’s head and our dear little fish is looking from the outside into the fish bowl at a waterlogged cat.
Here’s my thought. Fish in an Aquarium seem isolated, impossible to reach and in some cases like sharks, thankfully so, behind impenetrable glass. Our minds would never conceive of putting a cat in a fish bowl but imagine you are that cat. Imagine you are what the fish are looking at in the Aquarium. Imagine barriers of time and space, goals and recognition of those goals, race, culture and speech, are all broken. Ropes do not bind an energetic runner. Chains do not hold back the momentum of purpose. We are works of art transposed by hopes and dreams, not caged behind partitions that bind.
As many of us prepare for the National Romance Writer’s Conference coming up in July, appointments with editors and agents weigh heavy on our minds. Wardrobes suddenly appear too sparse for comfort. Pitches must be fine-tuned and our hearts have already begun to beat to the sound of a ticking clock. Dare I suggest that we don’t have to be the fish anticipating the cat’s next move? We can be like the cat, ever poised, no longer looking from the outside in.
Decide to visit the Aquarium in Atlanta and while you’re thinking about it, what advice do you have for all the other fish in the tank?
For more information including hours of operation and pricing, go to www.georgiaaquarium.org .