Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Wounded Starfish

Heard a story once. Don't know how true it is. Probably isn't, but it makes a nice illustration. Here goes. Pay attention.

There was a starfish. They don't do much, at least as far as most people can tell. Something comes along and sees the starfish. Could have been a kid. Could have been a mean adult. Maybe just something that likes nibbling starfish.

Anyway, whatever it is, cuts off one of the arms of the starfish. I've never heard a starfish say "ouch", but it's still a rotten thing to do. Fortunately, like you probably know, the starfish grows the arm back.

Time passes. Something else comes along. Cuts off the starfish's arm..the same arm. Fortunately it grows back (kind of reminds me of Prometheus and his liver).

Time passes. It happens again. Same arm gets lost. Grows back.

This keeps happening over and over. The same arm gets lost and the same arm grows back. Keep watching the arm. Look close now. Each time the arm grows back, it's not exactly the same. It looks a little more puny. It looks a little more twisted. It's not as healthy as the other arms.

Each time the arm is cut off and then grows back, it's not the same. Damage has been done. Recovery isn't as complete. Unlike Prometheus and is amazing grow again liver, it doesn't come back exactly the way it used to be (although Prometheus probably said more than "ouch").

Sometimes I think life's that way. Sometimes I think people are that way. Sometimes I think I'm that way. Something comes along and hurts us. We grow back. We keep going. We get hurt again. We grow back again. It happens and happens and we grow back, but not exactly the same. Something isn't as healthy. Something seems twisted inside of us.

Prometheus was punished for stealing the secret of fire from Zeus and giving it to people because he thought it was the right thing to do. Zeus took it personally and chained Prometheus to a rock. Everyday at the same time, like clockwork or the evening bus, an eagle came along and ate out his liver. Guess that's what happens when you try to do what you feel is right and someone disagrees.

The starfish got hurt for probably no reason. Prometheus got hurt for a reason, but probably not a good one. Depends on whether or not you think it was a good idea for Prometheus to take the side of people against Zeus and the gods, so people would have the power of fire. Do we get hurt for a reason or do we just get hurt?

A starfish is a starfish. Probably doesn't really know or care about the arm one way or another. Prometheus is a different matter. Immortal and thus feels pain and agony forever as the eagle eats a part of his body every day. Fortunately, Hercules (or Heracles, take your pick) eventually comes along, kills the eagle and frees Prometheus. But what happened to him? What happens to us? What happens to me?

We get hurt. We get scared. We grow back. Damage is done. Prometheus is immortal. Once freed, he gets his liver back and gets to keep it. Physically, he's OK. But what scars does his feelings and soul hang on to because of all those years of torture? Does he carry them forever as an immortal? Does he ever completely heal?

We're mortal. How long do our scars last? Is our "arm" deformed forever, or is their hope that someday we can be healed, too? Remy Zero once sang Save me. Who is there to sing "heal me" for the wounded?


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