Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Teacher (10/26/06)
TITLE: Something Fishy
By Brad Paulson
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“What makes you say that?”
“Well, we spend day after day swimming around in this school with no sense of purpose other than to eat and reproduce.” Eric fanned his pectoral fins against the gentle current to stabilize himself. “It all seems so pointless and I can’t help but think that there should be more to our existence.”
“So what would a teacher do for us?” Elwin asked showing no expression or interest, but that was normal for Elwin.
“I think that a good teacher could illuminate the finer points of living, cast some light on how we should interact with each other.”
“Why don’t we just swim closer to the surface where the sunshine is brighter?”
“You’re missing the point Elwin. I’m speaking in philosophical terms here. A good teacher could show us how to get the most out of our relationships with each other and perhaps even with our enemies. I’m not satisfied with just surviving; I want to live life to the fullest, but I don’t know where to start.” Eric’s gaze drifted away from Elwin as he stared off into the murky water.
“Maybe we should ask Ted to be our teacher, he’s pretty smart.” Elwin was pleased with his suggestion, convinced that he had found a solution to Eric’s problem.
“What does Ted know about anything? He’s a fish just like the rest of us.”
“Well he’s the biggest among us, which makes him the most successful. He must know something.”
“Don’t you see Elwin, he’s in the same rut we are in. The kind of teacher I’m talking about would have to come from somewhere else, a place of superior knowledge. Knowledge that we don’t have access to.”
“So you don’t think he should be a fish?”
“No, he has to be a fish. What would be the point of him teaching us how to live our lives if he doesn’t know how we live our lives? He definitely needs to be a fish, but a special fish. Not just half-fish and half-special, but fully-fish and fully-special.”
“How’s he gonna be two things?”
“I haven’t figured that part out yet.”
Elwin noticed the school was beginning to move. He motioned to Eric to swim along side him while they continued their conversation. “Why are you bringing up all this teacher stuff anyway? It all sounds pretty crazy to me.”
“You know that guy Randy, the hot shot that used to always swim at the edge of the school taunting the predators?”
“Yea, the danger seeker, he’s cool.”
“Well, you haven’t seen him lately have you? That’s because something ate him and hardly anyone noticed. Shouldn’t we be more compassionate toward each other, more aware of each other’s sufferings? Then there’s the question of what happened to him.”
“What do you mean? I thought you said something ate him.”
“I did, but what happened to him after that? Do we just cease to exist once our bodies give out or something devours us? I want to know if there is another sea in another dimension or time space continuum where we might persist in eating and spawning for eternity. I know it all sounds crazy but there has got to be more to life than this. We need a teacher to come save us from this pointless existence, someone to show us that in the grand sea of life we have value and worth. We can’t change on our own Elwin, we need help.”
The two fish were silent for a moment as the school meandered by an unusually thick area of kelp.
“I thought you were nuts when you came up with your theory of intelligent life forms outside of the ocean,” said Elwin, “but a school-teacher? That’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve come up with yet. What is wrong with being a fish? We eat, we swim, we spawn, we die. Why can’t you be satisfied with that like the rest of us? If you ask me, you think too much. Besides, where in the ocean would a teacher like that come from?” Elwin was confident that his question would end the absurd conversation.
“Maybe he wouldn’t come from the ocean.” Eric replied with a look of hope in his eyes.
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