It was the coldest night of the winter. At the bottom of the sea an old fish gathered together 12,000 of her children and grandchildren and began to tell them a story.
Once upon a time a little black fish lived with its mother in a stream which rose out of the rocky walls of a mountain and flowed through a valley. Their home was behind a black, moss-covered rock, under which both of them slept at night. The little fish longed to see the moonlight in their home just once.
From morning till evening, the mother and child swam after each other. Sometimes they joined other fish and rapidly darted in and out of small places. The little fish was an only child, for of the 10,000 eggs which the mother had laid, only this one had survived.
For several days the little fish had been deep in thought and said very little, but swam lazily and indifferently back and forth from the near to the far bank. Mostly, the fish lagged behind the mother who thought her child was sick and soon would be well. In face, the black fish’s “sickness” was really something else!
Early one morning before the sun had risen, the little fish woke the mother and said, “Mother, I want to talk to you.”
Half-asleep, the mother responded, “My dear child, this isn’t the time to talk. Save your words for later. Wouldn’t it be better to go swimming?”
“I want to go see where the stream ends. You know, Mother, for months I’ve been wondering where the end of the stream is . . . I haven’t been able to think about anything else. I didn’t sleep a wink all night. At last, I decided to go and find where the stream ends. I want to know what’s happening in other places.”
The mother laughed, “When I was a child, I used to think a lot like that. But, my dear, a stream has no beginning and no end. That’s the way it is. The stream just flows and never goes anywhere.”
“But Mother dear, isn’t it true that everything comes to an end? Nights end, days end, weeks, months, years . . .”
“Forget this pretentious talk,” interrupted the mother. “Let’s go swimming. Now’s the time to swim, not talk.”