– By Nick Gurevich –
Once upon a time there was a man living near a small lake. He was born in the area and spent all his life next to it. He had never been anywhere else. The lake was the only place he ever knew – but he knew it very well.
The lake and its surroundings provided the man with all he wanted. When he was hungry, the man would catch some fish or go hunting game in the woods around its shores.
When he got tired and thirsty, the man would come to the lake to wash himself and to drink its water which was always fresh and sweet.
Although he had everything he needed, the man was never completely satisfied. He was always curious about what lay beyond his small lake and its immediate and familiar surroundings. As the years were passing by, he thought more and more about going there to find out.
Then one day he went, leaving his small lake behind…
The man had been walking, without looking back, for some time when he began to realize that he had never been to this place before. Everything here was new and strange, yet interesting and exciting. Totally absorbed by all these new impressions, he kept walking without thinking about direction or time until he began to feel tired and thirsty.
“I guess I better go back to my lake,” said the man to himself (he often talked to himself, being alone most of the time). “I’ve seen enough for one day. Tomorrow, after a good night’s sleep, I will probably go again.”
But right after he said that, he realized he didn’t know which way to go now. Suddenly the man understood that he had gotten lost. Having no other choice, he decided to go on, hoping to find his lake eventually…
Several days had passed since the man turned back, but in his desperate search he couldn’t remember how many. He lost hope and then regained it, only to lose it again many times over. His feet were hurting and he was tired and thirsty as never before in his life. Yet stubbornly the man pressed on…
Then one day, he suddenly saw a lake. But it wasn’t his lake. It looked different and was much bigger. It was full of water and the man desperately wanted to drink. Gathering his last bit of strength, he ran to this unknown lake, fell on his knees and started to drink.
But the water wasn’t pleasant and sweet as he expected it to be. It was bitter instead and he couldn’t drink it.
“Oh, this must be the wrong place,” said the man to himself. He got up, walked a little along the shore of the new lake and tried to drink again. But the water was as bitter as it was in the first spot.
“This probably is also the wrong place to drink,” said the man again. He could hardly walk anymore but he got up, for he had to find some good water. So he kept dragging himself along the shores of this strange lake, yet every time he stopped and tried to drink, he could not because the water was always bitter…
Finally came the moment when the man couldn’t get up anymore. For a while he laid motionless, dying from thirst near the lake full of undrinkable water. And then he was dead, without ever knowing this strange new lake wasn’t a lake at all – it was a bitter and salty sea.