A fish, a glass of milk, and irrelevant territories

Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash

When we think of fish, we get entangled with the ocean. It’s depths, currents, underwater forests, or tides. Its diverse ecosystems, shallow waters, abyssal darkness, tropical waters, or icy storms. Or we might connect to a lake or a river, with its freshwater flows, streams, and dynamic rhythms of the ancient wild waters.

A glass of milk, well, that is another story. Within the vast history of the world, glass is a very modern thing. Glassmaking dates back to at least 3,600 BC in Mesopotamia, and the magic of glassmaking is made of sand, crystallized mineral salts molded through intense heat. So, a vessel such as glass has a memory of the fierce fire and air that shaped it. It also has the memory of being sand, a beach, or the ocean’s bottom. Before it was sand, it might have been part of a rock within a mountain, crumbling down by eroding forces after it's been generated by primal fire.
And then there is milk. Cow, goat, soy, or almond, all sources of a nourishing white liquid that quenches our thirst and replenishes our body. I do not drink animal milk for all that represents calfs being taken from their moms to steal their milk. Overly simplistic stated, but the truth nonetheless in the industrialized dairy industry. Barbaric, to say the least. So let’s stay with vegetable alternatives to milk.

A few years ago, I had a dream, and the dream’s image stayed with me until now, vividly, still reverberating. It was a simple dream, but I’m working through a powerful symbolic image since then.

I dreamt that I was a small golden fish that lived in a glass of milk, so all I did was swim round and round and sometimes bump into the glass walls. All I could see was white — white blindness.

My reality as a small fish in a glass of milk was a narrow one. The white opaque fluid enveloping me was all I knew, so I felt protected in its density but also captive and imprisoned by the invisible glass walls. It felt too tight. But this constraint of space was all I knew, so everything outside the glass of milk was irrelevant, for I could not see beyond it. White blindness was my whole reality.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines irrelevancy as something that is not related to what is being discussed or considered unimportant. When we decide, mostly unconsciously, what is irrelevant within our identity and beliefs, we are also deciding on severance and rupture. Irrelevant things get unconnected, separate, and out of the picture, literally. We break relations with something when we judge it outside our pattern of reality. It becomes foreign and unrelated.

We store un-relations, un-events, un-realities, un-emotions, and all these tangential vibrations we do not acknowledge in an irrelevant landscape. But because it is irrelevant, we do not have a map of this vast territory.

We tend to avoid it, but it keeps growing. It is a somewhat untidy and random place, like an attic or a basement, where we send all that doesn’t seem to fit or matter, so we can keep functioning. From time to time, we may lose ourselves in it, for it is complex and wild.

This fish living in a glass of milk call me out to the cultural constraints of perceived and accepted modern western reality. How narrow is our field of perception, how consequentially monstrous are our irrelevant landscapes. Being blind to the frontiers of culture makes us all a fish in a glass of milk, finding solace in the tight walls around.

In a systemic multi-layered reality, is there such thing as irrelevant things?
How can we venture in (re)connection to what is doomed irrelevant?
Are we willing to cross that frontier?

For sometimes, there are treasures hidden in irrelevant places. Bear in mind that the opposite move of irrelevancy is to connect, join, and tether ourselves within an interweaved sense of reality. It’s the difference between being a small domesticated fish in a glass of milk or a wild swimming critter potently journeying across the open sea. For a fish to swim fiercely across its environment, nothing is irrelevant. It responds to stimulus all around, swimming faster, changing course, going deeper, or hiding. Every inducement of the context is alive and permeates the live response of the finned critter. It responds and acts quickly from the whole body.

Once working on the liminalities of consensus reality, trying to find other ways to be in the world (redeeming alternatives for modernity’s utterly destructive challenges), we need to be aware of these irrelevant landscapes. What is irrelevant for humans could be utterly urgent for a tree or a river.

For now, still inside the glass, we can remember the vastness of the crystalline water, calling to mind the mountain that generated the sand and the glass. The fire that made everything possible. We thank milk as primordial food. As what connects and entangles is being awakened in the heart, we begin to move slowly through the irrelevance membrane that separates everything.

What is irrelevant to you? How can you connect with it? What treasures of connections can you find in your landscape of irrelevances?

If you like the article, please clap. Remember that you can clap up to 50 times if you like it a lot!

[Disclaimer: all these words and weaved concepts are birthed through my lived, biased, and always limited perception of things, not supposing to bring any absolute truth.]

By Sofia Batalha
Mammal, author, woman-mother, question weaver and dismantling global-colonial-technological-capitalism one day at a time. Awkward prose-poet with no grammatical knowledge. Pilgrim through inner and outer landscapes, remembering ancient earth practices, in radical presence, active listening, ecopsychology, art, ecstasy, and writing. Author of seven books, editor of the free online magazine, Wind and Water, Re-member the Bones Podcast, and Beyond the Sea Conversations — all in Portuguese.
More information:



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Sofia Batalha

Sofia Batalha

Journeying 🌿 between inner and outer landscapes, remembering ancient earth practices, radical presence, active listening, ecopsychology, art and writing.