A children's moralistic tale looking at the different responses to pain and trouble in one's life. The moral of the story is that depending on ones reaction to trouble something wonderful can come out of it.
Deep down under the sparkling sea, on the stern of the old wreck, there lived a little oyster. His shell was hard and brittle but underneath he was a tender-hearted and cheerful fellow.
Today, like any other day, he gazed out at the coral glistening in the sun and watched the kelp flutter on the great reef. He watched as the schools of fish swished by smiling and the hermit crabs scampered timidly under the nearest abandoned snail shell. No one ever bothered him, on his perch on the old wreck, as he never bothered anyone else. He sat there searching as far out as he could see, waiting for his friends Horse, Ray, and Skid to come and visit.
But today wasn't like any other day. Today, a tiny piece of sand invaded his thick shell. It was coarse and hard and it grated painfully against his soft belly. Oyster squirmed and wriggled. He tried to shake it out but the grain of sand just cut and stabbed deeper, bruising him and causing him to bleed. Oyster unclamped his hard shell to let the water flush it out but still the bothersome piece of sand wouldn’t budge.
In pain, he groaned “Ow! What am I going to do? It hurts so much and it won’t go away. I know, I’ll ask Horse, he’ll know what to do.” So Oyster waited.
It wasn’t long before Horse came galloping through the murky waters. “Hello, Oyster. How are you today?” Now Horse was a very thoughtful seahorse. It didn’t take him long to see that Oyster looked miserable.
“Ow!” gurgled Oyster. “I was minding my own business, like any other day, when this bit of sand got into my shell and it won’t go away…I have tried squirming, wriggling, shaking and flushing it out but it will not budge and it just hurts more.”
“Hmm,” said Horse, flicking a barnacle off his tail, “Why don’t you cry buckets full of tears and complain: Why me? What have I done to deserve this? This is so unfair.”
Oyster let out a wail so loud it could be heard for miles, even the little hermit crabs poked their heads out from the safety of their, hideouts to see what all the bellowing was about.
Oyster squawked, louder and louder, his little body shaking, harder and harder. He choked on the tears that streamed faster and faster down his face, leaving a puddle where he stood. “ It hurts so much.” he complained “Why did this have to happen to me? This is not fair! What have I done to deserve this?”
But, no matter how much he cried, his tears weren’t taking away the pain and complaining wasn’t moving the piece of sand. Crying was just making the pain more unbearable. When Horse eventually left, life was looking bleak for the sad little oyster.
Oyster was now in so much pain, he was trying very hard not to move, but every gush of water seemed to make the pain worse. The piece of sand was digging itself deeper and deeper into his already tender belly.
Soon Oyster caught a glimpse of his friend Ray flying through the dark depths. Seeing the clever stingray cheered him up a little. ”I’ll ask Ray. He’ll know what to do. Ray always knows what to do.” When Ray arrived, Oyster told him all about his woes and asked, “What am I going to do? It won’t go away. And it hurts so much.”
“Well,” said Ray “You could always pretend it isn’t there. Close your eyes, take deep breaths and repeat after me…”
So Oyster closed his eyes, took three deep breaths and followed Ray’s lead
“This pain does not exist.” said Ray calmly three or four times
“This pain does not exist.” echoed Oyster.
With his eyes closed Oyster imagined himself in a far off ocean; where irritating bits of sand did not exist, where everyone minded their own business, where the sun turned coral into glittering gold and where the kelp fluttered merrily. He was just feeling the warmth of cheerfulness again when a cold rush of water made him shudder, and a sharp pain stabbed through his body. His eyes flew open and he remembered,
“This is no good. It is still there. I try to forget but it just wont go away.”
Shrugging his wings, Ray propelled himself silently back the way he had come, leaving Oyster once again alone with his troubles.
Oyster’s view was now a frightening cloud of blackness. The glistening sun had disappeared, leaving the coral looking sharp and dangerous, the ghostlike tendrils of the kelp hovered, as though waiting to ensnare an unsuspecting passer by and though the school of fish swam by, no one smiled at Oyster and he was too pained to smile at them.
After what seemed like a lifetime in the dismal depths, Oyster’s friend Skid‘s beady eyes and dangling arms appeared from out of the gloom,
“Oh, Skid, life couldn’t be worse than what it is right now.” Oyster moaned as his friend came to a stop beside the old wreck.
“What’s wrong my friend?” asked the wise squid.
With a gush, the whole story poured out of Oyster; every painful prod and squirm. Skid listened intently until Oyster finished “What am I going to do. It won’t go away. And it hurts so much.”
Scratching his head with a long arm, Skid eventually suggested, “Well, you could put up with it.” he said “No matter how much it hurts you, no matter how much pain it causes, you could be big and brave and endure it.”
Now Oyster thought Skid’s suggestion was actually quite good and very courageous. So he gritted his teeth and clenched his shell. He was determined not to cry, determined not to complain but even more determined not to move. He took the pain and, though the tears threatened to spill, he held this determination right up until Skid swam away promising to visit again tomorrow.
“It’s no use,” thought Oyster “Grumbling about it, pretending it’s not there, or simply putting up with it does not really help at all. I guess this bit of sand and I are going to be stuck together for a very long time.”
Then he had an idea. “I know, I will make a special room for it in my shell.”
So Oyster started coating the grain of sand with layers and layers of ointment. Slowly and carefully, it softened the harsh edges of the sand. Day after day, perched on the stern of the old wreck, Oyster went about his business, one layer at a time, until it became less and less painful.
Eventually the sea sparkled again. The coral once more glistened in the sun, kelp fluttered merrily with the flow, and Oyster’s friends came and went. But underneath His hard and brittle shell, hidden from view, something had changed in Oyster. Out of all the trouble a thing of great beauty was, very gradually, being formed: a perfectly round, perfectly smooth, perfectly hard pearl.