The Frog In The Well – Another Version Of Plato’S Cave?
There were two frogs.
One frog lived in the sea. He knew vastness, openness and fathomlessness. He was so used to bigness that the sea is, that no smallness could trap his attention.
The other frog lived in a well, not far from the sea. But he knew not what sea was. He had never seen it—not even heard of it. In his most wildest of imaginations, if at all he ever imagined, the sea was an extended well—or at the most, a ‘part’ of his well, maybe from ‘this end to that’.
Both the frogs lived in different worlds, though they lived so close by. One day, however, they both met. They tried to speak on common lines, but their conversation could not make much headway. They both talked different languages: the sea-frog spoke of vastness of the sea, the well-frog insisted on the ‘vastness’ of his well.
The sea-frog wondered and smiled, ‘How could the well-frog compare his little well to the vast expanse of the ocean!’ To him, even the very idea of it was ridiculous, or at the most, sheer amusement. ‘The sea and a well, where is even the possibility of a comparison?’ he pondered.
The well-frog on the other hand, wondered: ‘How could there be anything larger, bigger, than my well? How could one trifle with the vastness of my well?’ He surmised, after he heard the sea-frog describing the sea, that the sea-frog must be a little out of his mind, or else, how could he talk like that? Can a well have an equivalent, a match?
The sea-frog understood where the difficulty lay. But how could he convince his fellow frog of the existence of the sea? He pitied that his fellow frog never went out of his well, and had remained so small and narrow in his world-view.
The well-frog lived a cosy and protected life, but at times he felt something was missing in his life, though he could not figure out what it was. He had all that he needed, but there came to him, now and then, a desire to know if there was anything beyond his well. He often recalled the sea-frog’s description of sea, something much bigger than his well. Many times he planned to undertake a journey, but rarely did his enthusiasm sustain. His desire to know what lay beyond lacked strength and steadiness.
Then, one day, he knew not how, he climbed out of his well, and began his journey towards the sea—the place of his dreams. What pushed him out of his well, and how he could manage to climb out, he could not understand, but he was happy he was out.
The journey to the sea, however, was far from being easy and smooth. He went along his path, but at times he slipped off the surface and at other times, his little feet got stuck in the sand. There were moments when he was not sure whether he was going in the right direction. It was a challenging experience—frightening and satisfying by turns. The journey was so long, arduous and tedious, that he wondered whether there was anything called the sea—until he reached the sea.
Having reached the seashore, he had nothing more to ask. He had no doubts, no enquiries, no complaints, no regrets.
He stood speechless; he knew the sea-frog was right.