'Koi Wisdom' - Philosophy

It is said that all wisdom begins by emphasising the valley aspect as distinct from the peak aspect.

In other words, you can’t have a 'peak' without a 'valley' because the existence of one simultaneously confirms the other, they define each other. Similarly, you wouldn't know sound without silence or silence without sound, you wouldn’t know a positive without a negative and so on. The idea being that to appreciate or understand anything, one must accept both opposites as an inevitable part of the 'whole.'

Which got me thinking...

Over time, many koi keepers develop sharp eyes for koi appreciation. This education is gained at various rates, depending on the thirst for knowledge and before long, this 'Koi Appreciation 101' engrains itself into the fabric of our fragile and koi-obsessed minds. So much so, that if we're not careful, a very serious problem arises...

The problem of focussing on the negatives!

This is not only annoying for you and those around you, but will no doubt cause some serious grief further down the line! If you suffer these symptoms - the habitual tendency to focus on the negatives of a koi in a bowl, what's happened is that you've become somewhat blinded by your 'Appreciation-Education...' you've gained knowledge but abandoned reason.

This is dangerous ground, because when buying koi or helping others to do so, or critiquing on social media, it's easy to become transfixed on the hypothetical 'perfect koi' that we have in our mind. This is something of our own creation, a fixed image held up as a marker of what the bowled koi in question 'should' look like.

And of course, it's totally barmey!

To add to that, another habit that creeps in is to compare a koi to specimens of a quality and value in a totally different league, which is not only barmey...

It's really unhelpful too!

Furthermore, these 'other' specimens used as comparisons are usually swimming around in the minds eye, a memory of a picture we saw, or a video we watched, or a koi show we attended. So they don't even make for a tangible comparison...

"If only it had beni like that one..."

Don't get me wrong, if you had this 'perfect' koi in the bowl alongside the koi being critiqued, it could make for a useful learning tool for some purposes. But that's about it.

It's an unfortunate symptom of developing our koi appreciation skills that our eyes soon race ahead of our pockets! This is sort of an annoying inevitability, but an interesting thing happens to the hobbyist that actually makes peace with this.

A useful wisdom is obtained.

Look out for it. A skilled and experienced hobbyist will talk about the positive attributes firstly, of course the negatives form part of the picture and their critique, but only a part. This hobbyist deploys reason and although they still clock the 'faults' at lightening speed, they will also consider everything in relation to the price of the koi in question. This is an experienced pair of eyes.

A less experienced pair of eyes focus on why the £75.00 tancho doesn't have a perfect spot...

A less experienced pair of eyes focus on why the showa with the stunning skin and strong body line doesn't have the beni plate slightly more to the left...

For those hobbyists looking to develop their koi appreciation skills, beware that as your eye gets sharper so too must your appreciation for the bigger picture - otherwise the stickiest of fates awaits. That of the hobbyist who is never pleased, who is blinded by the imaginary 'perfect koi,' and who is disillusioned with what their budget can actually obtain.

Don't Panic Though.

As terrifying as being in this state of mind sounds, don't panic, the path usually runs full circle if you're aware that it must. Whilst the learning in koi is infinite, the inevitable destination of keen eyes and a thin wallet comes round sooner than you might think. When it does, the 'wise-one' must accept the change of play...

The 'Koi Wisdom' which is then obtained helps keep you grounded, gives you balanced judgment and reminds you to accept the 'valleys' along with the 'peaks' - remembering that the one, always comes with the other.

Chances are, every koi you purchase will be a compromise.

But now, rather than obsessing over those compromises, we can appreciate the whole and we remind ourselves that the merits and demerits of any given koi are all relative to its price and are reflected thus...

- well, at least they should be!


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