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#127: Riding the River

Updated: Oct 12, 2022

"The frog in a well cannot conceive of the ocean" is one of the most famous proverbs from Chinese literature. The fable comes from "The Zhuangzi," one of the foundational texts of Taoism, where a frog who had long reigned as the largest and mightiest creature at the bottom of a well is shocked at his own limited world view when he hears a sea turtle describing the ocean.

This comic is inspired by that same frog. As children, we quickly develop a sense of self and associate strongly with that self. Things that we attach to (a toy, a person, or a place for instance) often are experienced as a part of ourselves, such that when we become separated from them, we feel physical pain and often express our frustration through sadness and anger. We are the frog living in the well, a tiny world in which we are kings.

Part of life and growing up is breaking through the boundaries that we set for our existence. As we grow older, our world gets bigger as we learn more about it. It gets broader and more sophisticated. We become a part of groups bigger than ourselves: a family, a tribe of friends, a fan base for a sports team, a member of an industry or political party, a citizen of a country. With every expansion of our perspective, we break through our proverbial wells and our world view does indeed grow, but they are still each just a tributary or river of life.

Until one day, perhaps we might be lucky enough to break through the last boundary and instead of simply riding from one river to the next, we discover that it was the ocean we were destined for all along.

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