The Fisherman and the Wondrous Island

A long, long time ago, a fisherman got caught in a storm. The storm carried his boat away and cast it on the beach of a small, alien island.

The island looked surreal, different from all others the fisherman had seen in his life. It was occupied by strange creatures. Some resembled humans, some reminded him of animals he knew from home, some seemed to be ghosts. He had a hard time figuring whether he was dreaming or the island and its inhabitants were real.

At the center of the island, under a magnificent tree, the fisherman discovered an ancient chest. When he opened it, he found a document with complex drawings. He figured that these were blueprints for a wondrous machine, which, once built and launched, would continuously run on its own. He tried to take the manuscript with him, but every time he took a few steps away from the chest, the scroll dissolved and returned to the chest.

Wondering how to copy the document, the fisherman absentmindedly picked a fruit from the tall, beautiful tree above it and ate it. It tasted delicious and invigorated him. ‘Like a super coffee,’ he thought, because he instantly felt ten years younger. The fruit seemed to contain some kind of medicine as well, because within moments, the scratches and bruises he suffered during the storm disappeared. “I gotta bring some of those,” he exclaimed, but the fruits he picked decayed within minutes and could not be preserved.

The fishermen collected food and water, repaired his boat and sailed home. There, he told people about his adventure, the island, its strange creatures, the treasure chest, the blueprint of the ingenious apparatus, and the miracle fruit.

He explained everything as best as he could, but he had to resort to allegories, symbols, and metaphors in order to illustrate things and creatures for which the people had no names. Not surprisingly, many didn’t believe him. Some called him crazy and even names. Literate people scoffed at his claim to have found a manual for a perpetuum mobile and offered many arguments against the possibility of such a mechanism. Some people, who were a bit more imaginative and could discern the passion and righteousness in the man’s eyes and voice when he was telling his story, believed him. Still, much of what he narrated got lost in translation.

Despite all doubts, sneering, and ridiculing, the fisherman’s story spread quickly throughout the country, because it was entertaining. And every time the story was told, people left out something or added something of their own, and soon countless versions of this story were around.

The fisherman returned to the island many times, hoping to find something that he could bring home, but the island remained aloof in all respects.

Eventually, he tried to convince people to come with him to the island, but that was even harder than making them believe in his stories, because the journey appeared strenuous and perilous. People preferred to sit by the fireplace, in their comfortable homes, and retell their version of the story of the fisherman, who was cast on an alien island and found wondrous things.

Pic: (c) justdd @

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