I care not for speed.
I mean. Obviously occasionally it’s useful; those times when you need to be somewhere else quickly.
That’s just an example.
Still, when I do a quick google search for ‘fastest fish’ and learn that the Sailfish has been reliably logged as travelling at up to 70mph, I still have at least a brief moment of ‘oooh’, complete with jaw-dropped ‘o’ face.
But then I think. How fast is that?
Does anyone here actually have a real sense of what it means to travel at 70mph? I’ve definitely done it. It’s that speed at which most cars I’ve been in start rattling. It normally means we’re going down a hill a bit. But it’s a bloody car, so it doesn’t feel like moving (apart from in the rattling cars, and rattling doesn’t feel fast).
And there’s that weird optical trick whereby it depends on which angle you look out the window how fast it looks like you’re going. That confuses the hell out of me. Every time I’m moving fast I lean my head and look forward and back and watch the world warp around me. Bursting white lines taking doppled rhythms as they move past and I shift perspective.
As is often the case, I’m desperately hoping that someone else has a clue what I’m talking about. I could be the only person to notice this. I could look crazy.
So let’s quieten about it and think of this speeding fish. I wonder what the fish seas. Underwater is probably a bit weird, and would it buffet more than air or less? Is water actually softer at speeds? Is it wet enough to reduce friction? Do they only get that fast when the tides are in their favour? How do the fluid dynamics get in the way? Does it always know which way it’s going. How the hell do fish navigate anyway? Does it even matter? What do fish think about the sky? Or the sun?
Do you know who doesn’t care about all this stuff?
I sit here, trying to conjure up words and ideas that might make us feel some kind of empathy or understanding of this fast travelling aquatic beastie, and I am nowhere nearer comprehending the fishiness of being a fish.
We assume that the animals are just focussed on being, not thinking. Being a fish means not having to worry about what a fish is. Just do the being. That’s fishness.
This could be a projection. And optimistic idealisation. We just don’t know. Maybe there’s a fish out there lying in his fishy bed and writing a fishy blog about the fastest mammal. It’s a long shot, but we just don’t know.
It’s curious. That we envy that we can’t experience. At least with other people we can pretend we know what it’s like. With the animal we have nothing left but imagination and the desire that inspire.
But I do still wonder, ‘if I were a fish‘…
Illustration by Jaime.