I have had a particular scene from Finding Nemo running through my head all today, and I was going to look up the exact quotation (so no avid Pixar fans will get mad when I get a couple words wrong), but I can’t find it, so I may have to wing it. The scene is about halfway through the movie: Nemo’s dad, Marlin, is searching for his son and being “helped” by Dory, the fish with hilarious short-term memory loss. Marlin’s exasperated, and he turns to Dory with a feeble explanation for why he should go on alone:
Marlin: I can’t afford any more delays and you’re one of those fish that causes delays. Sometimes it’s a good thing. There’s a whole group of fish . They’re delay fish.
Dory: You mean…
Dory: . You mean you don’t like me?
Marlin: No, of course I like you. It’s because I like you I don’t want to be with you. It’s a complicated emotion.
I want to talk about the delay fish. Think, if you will, about a person you know who is hard to be around; who’s maybe a little slow on the uptake; who’s well-meaning but annoying as all get-out. Bless their hearts (in the Southern sense), they are as nice and friendly as they come, but something about them just grates on the nerves. You feel a little guilty for being annoyed, but you’re still annoyed. They aren’t smart enough or efficient enough or something enough to function normally, and so they’ve become, in your mind, just another person to put up with, but not really enjoy.
That’s how it is with me, anyway. I lose patience with people too quickly, sometimes writing them off as not being worth my time. I don’t usually consider that I might be a “delay fish” in someone else’s opinion, even though, if I’m honest, I can be pretty durn slow. This whole blog about how slow I am to express my thoughts–the point is, I still have thoughts, and so do other folks. The moment I negate somebody’s worth because they don’t impress me in some way is the moment I give up my desire to be understood. If I want people to be patient with me and take the time to listen til I can figure out what I want to say, I ought to have more patience with others. I have a maxim I repeat to myself after I make dumb mistakes, to make myself feel better (sort of): “Idiots Are People, Too.” It’s a not-as-diplomatic way of reminding myself that the worthwhile part of being a human isn’t defined by how impressive we appear to others–in fact, if humans were only valuable when they were perfect or nearly-so, we’d be worth nothing.
Imago Dei refers to the idea that, since God created humans in His Image, we have a worth independent of how smart or pretty or useful we are. I want to start acting out this idea, both in my attitude towards others and towards myself. When I start comparing my schedule to others’, who seem to be achieving so much more than I am, I need to step back and be reminded that I am valuable because of my Creator, not because of what I create. I ought to consider whether I am annoyed because the person seems ignorant (in which case I ought to be more gracious), or because I am convicted that, instead of worrying over everything like I am, they are taking the time to enjoy the world around them. Some people choose to live simply–and simplicity can be a beautiful thing.
And anyway, I like myself better when I’m not busy-minded–I like my laid-back self much much better than I like my worried, fearful self when I forget to rely on God.
Who wouldn’t rather be Dory than Marlin?
Other notable delay-fish:
Elwood P. Dowd, Harvey: “Years ago my mother used to say to me, she’d say, ‘In this world, Elwood, you must be’ – she always called me Elwood – ‘In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.’ Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.”
Mary, Luke 10:38-42: Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”
Fred Rogers: “The thing I remember best about successful people I’ve met all through the years is their obvious delight in what they’re doing and it seems to have very little to do with worldly success. They just love what they’re doing, and they love it in front of others.”
Winnie-the-Pooh: “What I like doing best is Nothing.”
“How do you do Nothing,” asked Pooh after he had wondered for a long time.
“Well, it’s when people call out at you just as you’re going off to do it, ‘What are you going to do, Christopher Robin?’ and you say, ‘Oh, Nothing,’ and then you go and do it.
It means just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.”
“Oh!” said Pooh.”