From July 16, 2013
Many years ago, I was watching one of those National Geographic nature shows, and on that particular night they were focusing on this weird fish. I don’t recall exactly what kind of fish it was, and the only part of the show that still sticks out in my mind was when they started talking about its behavior during mating season.
While trying to attract a mate, the narrator pointed out that the male fish would raise (or flap?) his fins. This would display a beautiful shade of red that ran along the entire length of his sides. I’m fuzzy as to whether the red was the fish’s natural color or the result of bioluminescence. But the point is, the flashier and brighter the fish was, the better chance it had of finding a mate.
Let me stretch the analogy a little.
Being recognized as a good dancer (male or female) is something we all strive for, and it’s a great feeling when we start to achieve it. We hear compliments, get more dances, and even gain some influence in our communities.
And then what happens?
Continuing on with the flashy fish story…
The narrator went on to mention that there was a serious downside to this fish’s behavior. The healthiest, most vibrant fish – the ones most likely to garner attention – were also the ones most likely to be spotted and picked off by hungry predators.
Now, I’m not saying that getting better at tango means we’re more likely to be eaten. But think about what it takes to improve our tango. We joke about it being an “obsession,” and we pretty much have to treat it like one if we’re going to be serious about advancing. Therein lies the danger.
At this point your brain is thinking one step ahead, possibly coming to the logical conclusion that the adrenaline rush of being an admired dancer makes us vulnerable to symbolic predators, such as arrogance and an inflated sense of self-importance. I guess that’s true enough, as I’m sure we’ve seen it happen.
But I think there’s more.
We’re often told that, in bad times, our true nature comes out and we show others who we really are. But in good times, and in this case, the moments of social “success” we achieve because of our tango “obsession,” the same thing happens. Whether we get “eaten alive” or not doesn’t depend on a change in character. Instead, it has much more to do with who we’ve been, deep down…all along. Outside circumstances, whatever they may be, merely expose us.
Might be a good idea to keep one foot on the ground at all times.