Once upon a time there was a ship. It was a big, beautiful ship. The ship had many design flaws, but it managed to stay afloat. One of its brilliant features was the multitude of steering mechanisms that it had on board. It had four different steering wheels — one in the bow, one in the stern, one in the center, and one toward the southeast. It had rudders. It had sails. It even had a gasoline motor.
Every four years, the ship would have to be overhauled. Some people thought it would be wise to make the steering wheels in the center and the southeast a little stronger than the other wheels, because they couldn’t see ahead as well as the other wheels, and that this would give the ship balance. And so it was done.
One morning, a bright, shiny rock appeared in front of the ship. It was so enormous, so tremendous, that it didn’t even look real. It swayed this way and that, hypnotizing some of the wheels on the ship. At times it seemed to mock the ship, but then it would promise the ship great things, and the ship listened.
‘We need to get to that rock!” the center wheel said. “Yes!” the southeast wheel agreed. “No, no,” said the wheels in the stern and the bow. But the central and southeastern wheels were stronger because of the way they were weighted. They pulled the ship along, right toward that bright, shiny rock, until it was too late. The ship shook and shuddered, and slowly sank to the bottom of the ocean.
The waves and the fishes saw what had happened to the ship. Some of the waves left as quickly as they could. Other waves decided to hurl themselves against the rock. It would take some time, but they knew they could eventually wear the rock down. The fishes just didn’t know what to do. Some of them went low, others went high, jumping right out of the water into the pure, pure air. And some (the ones who had been to school) pooled their efforts and pulled that ship back up to the surface.
(I wrote this shortly after waking up this morning. I’m not sure if I’m one of the fish that went to school, or a wave. Right now I just feel like I want a time machine.)