Sitting peacefully along the shore of a small pond, peering into the smooth water, I watched as minnows and tadpoles swam up, surfaced to gulp air or snatch insects then quickly dash away. Enjoying this display for some time with quiet contentment I then noticed one particular fish approach the shore and drift slowly forward and back in an rhythmic dance. Taken aback by this new behavior I stared with rapt attention. The fish continued it’s approach and retreat several times but stayed in relatively the same space. The instant we made eye contact the fish froze, at first unsure of what to make of my presence, until it slowly backed up disappearing out of my sight. Unexpected disappointment came over me. As I was about to turn my attention back to the dance of the minnows and tadpoles the fish suddenly burst at full speed out of the water onto the shore and began to flip and flop about on the dry land. Abruptly I was on my feet with excitement staring dumbfounded at this turn of events.
As I watched, the flailing fish began to make progress, not back toward the water but, farther up the bank and onto the grass land of the surrounding park. A couple jogging by, seeing the astonishment on my face, slowed as I gaped at the fish. Their own interest became piqued at the sight as they stopped and joined in my shock at what was happening. In turn, this drew the attention of others until a small audience had formed to watch with anticipation and curiosity at what was happening.
Once we were all 100 yards from the shore the silence was broken by murmured whispers among the crowd now following the fish still jumping and treking over land. Some were crudly placing bets on how long the poor creature would survive out of it’s element while others took a compassionate stance wanting to intervene. The volume of the group grew as others tried to voice their own opinions as to what this meant. A small group formed discussing the option to simply pick up the fish and carry it back to it’s pond while an opposing group demanded they leave the animal to it’s destiny or fate.
Speculation over the species of the fish came into question with some suspicions turning to a critical evolutionary shift. “How else could it be surviving?” on person shouted. Concern over climate change was voiced while many simply just declared that this is what this fish is meant to do. Things were quickly getting out of hand and I actually doubted that the followers were even paying attention to the creature’s progress any further.
Once again I made eye contact with the fish and in that moment I knew I had to speak up. Letting it continue on it’s journey I stopped in front of the mob and attempted to get the attention of the growing debate. I yelled “Who here knows where the next water source is?” and “Does anyone even know why it left the pond in the first place?” I had them all speechless looking back and forth among themselves. “Has anyone even thought about what the fish wants?” At that final question uproarious laughter broke out. Some turned turned red with embarrassment for me while others openly declared my stupidity but not one of them had an answer to my questions and as a result stopped in their tracks.
When they all finally caught their breath and and stopped to dismiss me the fish was gone. Those who had placed their bets on the the animal’s demise demanded payment as the opposition demanded proof. The scientific speculators scoffed and decided to dissipate moving on to more intellectual pursuits followed quickly by the joggers who first approached. I grinned to myself for a moment and strolled casually back to the pond. It was at that point that I noticed I had been followed. The little girl sat down next to me and smiled. I gave her a quick wink and said “What do you think will happen next?” She looked up at me with a huge grin and said “I don’t know but…I think it might be your turn.”