The Tragedy of Perception

A seed is inadvertently planted

In which one goldfish wonders why the other goldfish isn’t bored.

In the goldfish bowl, Bruce and Sheila Softly were hovering side by side, gazing out into the living room.

Sheila sighed.

Bruce glanced at him, then looked back out to the living room and said nothing.

Sheila sighed again.

Bruce continued watching the living room and said nothing.

Sheila sighed yet again, then said, “Don’t you ever get bored, Bruce, just doing this all the time?”

Bruce said, “Doing what?”

“Just hovering, Bruce, in the same bowl, day in, day out.”

“No.”

“But you must do.”

“Why?”

I do.”

“Bored?”

“Well... not bored exactly, just—”

“—Just what?”

“I just feel there should be more to it. All we ever do is hover round this bowl all day long—which seems remarkably like the shape of a human’s head, if you ask me—we hover round this bowl like two disembodied consciousnesses, and convert… convert whatever such consciousnesses feed on, into… into something else. There has to be more to life than that.”

“But we’re goldfish, Sheila; what else is there to do?”

Sheila sighed.

Bruce watched the living room, was quiet for a moment, then said, “I mean, you could think about this for days and days, Sheila, only to decide you wanted to be a bus driver.” He looked at Sheila and said, “And I can’t really see you as a bus driver, Sheila.”

Sheila continued watching the living room, slowly breathed in as deeply as he could, then sighed the deepest and longest sigh he could manage.

Bruce said nothing.

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