Judging a Fish by It’s Ability to Climb

by Christian Bowman  ·  April 27, 2016

Paul_de_Vos_-_Running_foxWe are all unique individuals with our own idiosyncratic way of going about things, our own habits, and our own talents. Some people are very keen to differences in space and color, and they can draw almost life-like renditions of reality. Other people have a way with words, and they can sketch a picture without imitating its form, simply by describing it. The point is that we are all defined by our uniqueness.

David Wagoner’s poem “Tactics, ” first published in Vol. 14, No. 3 of Five Points, metaphorically underlines this tendency by putting us in the position of a fox, who rather than running straight from a pack of hunting dogs “doubles back, even redoubles, and knows by heart where to go.” This differs from the tactics of a hedgehog who, rather than trying to “outfox its pursuers,” “curls into a ball and presents an almost insoluble three-dimensional problem.” Needless to say, both animals escape the pursuit, but in different ways.

In the pursuit of life, happiness, and personal meaning we all have our different methods. A lot of times we get caught up in comparing ourselves and others to an imaginary objective standard. But as David Wagoner shows us in “Tactics,” everyone has different ways of going about things. In other words, there are many roads that lead to the same destination. Next time you feel like you’re not as smart, talented, quick, or gifted as someone else, remember your uniqueness. I’ll end this with an appropriate quote by Einstein: “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”