Coming home from vacation the other week I realized how much I missed Statler and Waldorf.
A week by the ocean can be particularly mind-clearing for any number of reasons. For a long time I’ve had a love of marine life and I even tried documenting it once in Z is for Zoology and being in such close proximity of such a dynamic body of water for such a long time re-triggered a set of feelings in me.
It was a re-enforcement of something I routinely feel, and the reason why I’ve kept an aquarium for a long time and routinely love to revisit them.
My current aquarium experience are two quite quirky red ear slider turtles. They were rescue turtles, classroom pets who lost their lease, brought to me by someone very special to me. I’ve been in the habit of naming my aquarium pets after a collection of cartoon convention and literary references for a while and the old man faces these two have instantly reminded me of those dear Muppet’s characters. How can one not love the two as they basically critique the apartment happenings with the same dry and untimely efforts as their namesakes.
Aquariums are calming for me and sitting by the tank with the computer so the neon light from across the street reflects off the water while Statler and Waldorf make a late night tumble to figure out their sleep station is just soothing.
Something about aquarium life reminds me of being human. For two animals that have more than enough space to completely ignore one another their favorite position is one sun-baithing atop of the other. Turtles even in the wild assume this behavior routinely…as if what defines their society is the ability to create the most erratic prehistoric cheer-leader pyramid. As I kept many different species over the fish over the years, I found the same pattern. Even among the most aggressive of my cichlids (mostly bread from the African rift lakes region lines) all seemed to follow similar patterns to humans, in their case the looked more like mass-transist commuters in the way they scampered, deflected and assaulted one another. That in-and-of itself at the time was so quaint, so un-hampering, so calming.
Truly, what I love about aquariums is the ability to bring me closer to the behaviors of their inhabitants in my daily life.
As a conversationalist fisherman (one who targets high stress-tolerance, non-endangered fish on a catch, monitor and release programs and am open to fishing-out invasive species (never caught one) on target and turn-over programs) I have an utmost respect for the natural habitats of aquatic species. It’s not because I ‘hunt’ them but because as I’ve engaged them I’ve learned how they impact and interact their habitats and have a great deal of respect for it. As I watch species that can adapt to aquarium life as a part of their natural habitual existence I feel closer to the actual world, to myself.
Statler and Waldorf are stacked on one another, under about 8″ of water, one half standing on a pile of moveable ‘stones’ and the other on the back of the first, necks outstretched, eyes searching. With every keystroke they anticipate I’ll move to a food source, despite not feeding them on a schedule, despite not ever tank interaction being a feeding, despite the fact that some food sources will run away from them (they get regular feeder fish and grubs) and aren’t actually an immediate food source. Watching them I don’t feel bad for them, they’ve grown up here, they’ve grown up in a tank of tank turtles before them, because they are contained and supposedly acting upon accusatory man-made instincts, I adore the fact that they display exactly what they should and act like every wild turtle I’ve ever fished around and loved watching in the wild.
I’m not as active as I used to be, or as I would like to be, for aqua-biology care. I understand the delicate balance that exists in the full ecosystem between these creatures and our own existence because I am a responsible licensed fisherman and responsible aquarium owner who supports responsible licensing for responsible pet importing, breeding and ownership laws. I love marine creatures. I’m infinitely attracted to them. I donate money and time to them and I don’t have a lot of either to donate and sometimes I feel guilty because there are so many other anti-hatred among human things I could donate my money and time for and don’t.
But, honestly, when I come home to Statler and Waldorf even when they are too asleep to even know I’m at their tank-side and I get to appreciate them being who they are it means a lot. The experience is wonderful in that, they make me think of how humans lean on one another, broque one another, stiff one another and still come back to lean on one another as allies, as friends, as cohorts and roommates. I watch their tank and I am reminded at the most basic forms of existence, life and the parallels of modern society and its roots.
If even without the complex (probably called liberal/progressive/socialist) ideals, just the peaceful, tranquil solace of the tank life sustained by my unpredictable regularity that allows me to witness its growth provides me with love and affection for the complexity of the ecosystem around me and my aquatic life.
Every day I keep a responsible aquarium the happier human I am.