Once there was a big fish and a little fish that lived together in a pond. Every day the little fish looked to the skies to see gulls flying from an unseen origin to an unknown destination and back. He studied this magical flight for hours at a time pondering the elegance of the mysterious journey. The big fish swam the circumference of the pond every 17 minutes pondering the vastness of his domain.
On this particular summer day, Little Fish noticed that Big Fish was circling his kingdom much quicker than before. He approached Big Fish and said, “I’m concerned.”
Big Fish, who was quite a bit older and more established in the pond, stopped mid-circle, patted Little Fish on the nose and said, “What is troubling you?”
The pond is shrinking.
“You’re swimming around the pond in 16 minutes today instead of your usual 17. I think the pond is shrinking.”
“Oh, that’s nonsense,” Big Fish replied. “I’m just swimming faster and stronger today.”
Little Fish nodded in agreement but wasn’t convinced. He decided to observe the situation carefully. For the next several days, he saw Big Fish circling the whole pond faster and faster. Every time he asked Big Fish about it he got a different explanation.
Why would we do that?
Finally on the fifth day, he asked a serious question. “Do you think we should try to find a new pond?”
“Why on earth would we do that?” Big Fish retorted.
“Because this one is shrinking.”
“Nonsense!” and Big Fish started his day with a 9 minute circle, unaware that he had come around a second time at the 17-minute mark. Flustered, he stopped in front of Little Fish. “There are no other ponds! Why would you think there are any other ponds? Ridiculous!” And he swam away.
Little Fish called after him, “Because the gulls fly back and forth above us. They never swoop down to eat us, so there must be other fish nearby. Let’s go see!”
There are no other fish and no other ponds.
“Absolutely not,” Big Fish said directly. “There are no other fish and definitely no other ponds.”
Little Fish swam to the far side of the pond. He felt sad and confused.
When Little Fish woke the next day, he was urgently troubled to see Big Fish starting lap 4 at the 17-minute mark. He raced side by side with Big Fish until neither could breathe and both had to stop and rest. Gasping, Little Fish said, “It’s time. We have to try and make it to a new pond. We can’t wait any longer.”
“I am not going to another pond that doesn’t exist!” Big Fish said sternly.
Little Fish looked at him with kind eyes and hugged Big Fish with his little fins. Then he jumped in the direction of the gulls’ flight.
Big Fish started swimming in circles again.