Once upon a time, in a place called Ocean Paradise, there lived a little fish. And the little fish swam within Ocean Paradise as happy as can be, for the Lord of the Ocean had given him everything that he could ever want.
One day, a long, skinny friend swam up to him and said, “Did the Lord of the Ocean really give us everything we could ever want?”
And the little fish said, “Of course! What more could we want than this Ocean Paradise?”
The long, skinny friend asked, “Do you know what water is?”
And the little fish said, “Water? Never heard of it.”
The long, skinny friend said, “Only the Lord of the Ocean knows. It must be something very precious for him to keep it a secret from us.”
The little fish thought for a moment and said, “But the Lord of the Ocean promised us everything. Why would he keep something so precious a secret from us?”
The long, skinny friend said, ““Perhaps the Lord of the Ocean has deceived us! Perhaps he hasn’t really given us everything, and he’s keeping the precious water for himself!
Suddenly, the happy little fish was no longer happy.
So he said, “It’s not fair! I want water too!”
The long, skinny friend said, “I will help you find it, but we have to hide from the Lord of the Ocean. If he finds out what we’re up to, he will become very jealous and angry. He will destroy us!”
Terrified, the little fish swam and he swam and he swam as fast and as far as his little fins could carry him – so fast and so far that he swam right out of Ocean Paradise.
Marooned on dry land, he couldn’t breathe, and he couldn’t move. Suffering terribly, he thought, “The Lord of the Ocean must have found out my plan! He is angry with me, and he is trying to destroy me!”
The little fish flipped and flopped and wiggled, desperately trying to save himself, until he was completely exhausted. Finally, he cried out, “Lord of the Ocean, please have mercy on me and save me!”
Just then, a great wave engulfed the little fish, lifting him up, and carrying him home.
At that moment, the little fish learned the secret of the water. He learned that he had always had this precious thing all around him. It was the breath of his life – the very thing in which he lived and moved – he just never knew it – until now.
And that’s how the little fish became the wisest and the happiest and most serene fish in Ocean Paradise.