The fish’s ignorance

The fish moved lazily through the crevices of the familiar shipwreck it knew so well. It had just had its lunchtime meal, and it was looking for a comfortable spot to doze for a while. As it found that spot, it settled down and drifted off into a snooze.

Barely aware of it, the fish dreamed about its friends and the jungle they had discovered just beyond the rocky mountain. The previous day they decided to venture a little further along the rocky mountain. What they found was a teeming jungle of trees and huge plants.

The deep and slow creaking sounds of the shipwreck brought it out of its slumber. The fish had been waiting for its friends to further explore the jungle. After a short while, they had still not arrived. So the fish set out to explore the jungle by itself, and set out on its way.

A short while later, the fish reached the edge of the jungle. It was slightly nervous, as it had not yet entered the jungle. Not even with its friends. It took a moment to gather itself, and entered the jungle.

It traveled slowly, admiring the swaying stems of the plant life all around it. It noticed that it was becoming slightly darker. The huge plants were blocking out the natural light, creating ever-moving patterns on the jungle floor as they moved and swayed gently above the fish.

“Welcome to the jungle”, a voice came from behind it. Startled, it quickly turned around to find a tadpole with a puzzled look on its face. “I’ve never seen you here before. Are you lost?”, asked the tadpole. “I am exploring this jungle I found yesterday. What are you doing here?”, replied the fish. “There is where we are born. We wait in the safety of the jungle to grow legs and lungs”. “What happens once you grow legs and lungs?”, the fish inquired. “Then I can explore the surface world, where the rest of my family lives most of the time”.

“The what?”, asked the fish. The tadpole looked confused, and said “The surface world. Have you really never heard about it?”.
“No, where is this place?”.
“Not far. You find it just outside the water”, said the tadpole.

The fish was puzzled. It had never heard of such strange things. “I don’t understand. What is… water?”

The tadpole was at a loss for words. Although it was still young, It had never before encountered another creature in the pond that did not know about water. The crabs knew about it, the water spiders knew about it, and so did all the other tadpoles and frogs. Finally the tadpole spoke. “You are in water. You live in it, and it is all around you, right now”.

“What do you mean? All I see is you and the jungle plants around me. Are you playing a trick on me?”, asked the fish. “No, no, not at all. If you travel to the surface and have a look through the surface, you will see for yourself”, smiled the tadpole.

The fish was becoming increasingly uncomfortable. It was looking around nervously, trying to see this “water”. Finally it said, “You are talking nonsense. I don’t believe you, telling me about other worlds and things I can’t even see”. With that, the fish swam off and vanished through the stems of the lotus flowers.

That afternoon, the tadpole’s parents came down into the lake to visit it. “Hello mom, dad. I had the strangest experience earlier today. A fish came swimming through here. I told him about the surface world and the water, but it couldn’t understand. Then it became distrustful and swam off.”

The father and the mother both broke out into a loud laughter. As soon as their amusement subsided somewhat, the father smiled and said, “Don’t you know? You can’t tell a fish its in water!”.