The Lizard and the Golden Fish
A small lizard stood motionless next to a garden pond, his eyes fixed on a swirl in the water below. Beneath the water’s surface glided an exquisitely beautiful fish. Never in this life had he seen anything as lovely; the fishes’ scales gleamed an amazing golden color, her tail and fins were trailing ribbons of delight, and when she swam, she swam as gracefully as a feather wafting through a shaft of sunlight.
“Surely I have never seen anything as beautiful as you. Dear fish, you may think this strange of me, but now that I have seen you, I am sure I have fallen in love with you.”
The fish paused in a graceful turn and replied, “Lizard, you say you love me, but why is that? Is it only because of the way that I look? Have you given any thought to who I am or what I feel? For if you had, you would have found that I am the saddest of all living things.”
“But how can that be?” asked the lizard. “If I had a lifetime to describe how lovely you are I would never find enough words.”
“Many have said they admire me, but none have ever wondered if I am happy here. I have lived in this small pond nearly my whole life, and nowhere else will I live until I die. I would rather be dead than live here. If you love me lizard, will you help me die? Will you drain the water from this pond?”
“How can you ask such a thing from me? How could I ever kill the one that I love? Besides, dear one, I am just a small lizard. I would never be able to remove so much water.”
“Leave me then. Seeing you would only remind me of another hope crushed.”
“I will leave, but only to find a way to set you free, for I love you more than I ever thought I could love.”
“You are only a small lizard. What can you do that will set me free?”
“Yes, I am only a small lizard, but I am the lizard that loves you, and I will find a way.”
And so, the lizard set off to find a way to free his beloved. After thinking for a long time, for lizards think quite slowly indeed, he realized that he would need the help of someone bigger and stronger than himself. And of all the animals he knew, the great buck was by far the strongest. The lizard searched for the buck through the woods and through the meadow. He searched for him by the stream, and from one end of the marsh to the other. When at last he found him, he asked with all of his heart for his help.
“Great buck, if you would only carry a bucket of water from the pond to the stream beyond the woods you would be giving this beautiful fish her freedom. And it is her freedom that she prizes above all other things. It is such a small burden for one so great and strong.”
“That is true. But why should I care about a fish when I am also beautiful? Am I not the most magnificent animal in the woods? I do not care anything about this fish. If you want help, you must find another.”
But the lizard had not given any thought of seeking another’s help. After another long time of great thinking, the lizard thought that if he could find a great bird, surely the bird could carry his precious fish to the stream long before she would be short of breath. The lizard knew that the mother eagle took her meals from the stream by the fallen log, and that is where he found her. Hiding carefully beneath the log, the lizard explained his problem to the mother eagle, and asked for her help.
“You are a brave lizard, but not a wise one, I think. For you must know that I have chicks to feed, and yet you ask me to carry your fish to the stream. I would be happy to carry your fish, but you must know that I would only carry it to my nest where my young ones wait for their meal. If you truly want to free her, you must find another to help you.”
Although the lizard was not clever, he also would not give up. Again he thought a very long time, and slowly he thought of a plan that might work. If he could somehow add more water to the pond, at long last it would overflow, and then his beloved could swim free from her prison. But no matter how much he thought, he could not think of a way to save her once she was free of her pond. Only one person was wise enough to solve this problem, and that was the wise shaman that lived in the small house in the woods. The lizard traveled to the small house of the wise shaman and explained his problem, and asked for advice to set his beloved fish free.
The shaman thought about this for a long while. “What you need is a great flood, but that is a very dangerous thing, and although you may free your fish, you may also harm others. It is also true that no one may be harmed, but are you willing to take such a risk?”
The lizard thought deeply and said, “I love this fish very much, and if it is possible that no one will be harmed, I am willing to take the risk. But how can you cause such a flood?”
“I have the power to make it rain, and only for the sake of love will I do this.”
And so, the shaman chanted what he needed to chant, and he cast spells that needed to be cast. He prayed to many Gods, both large and small, until, just when the lizard thought he could no longer hope, it began to rain. The lizard waited in the tree that hung over the pond for the heavy rains to cause the flood that he desired. And everywhere he looked, water covered the ground. And so, too, the small pond flooded and overflowed allowing the most beautiful of all fish to swim out of the pond to her freedom. She swam with a happiness that was blinding, for she was beautiful, and she was finally free. But the flood was not deep enough, and soon she could swim no more. The lizard saw this and cried out in the deepest anguish, “Swim! My love, swim!!”, but she could not, and it was there that she slowly died. And so the lizard, seeing this, let go of the branch he sat upon and fell into the pond, for that was the only way that he could free himself of his ! despair.
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