The Philosopher and the Oyster

By the sea on a lovely morning strolled a philosopher—one who seeks a magnificent explanation for his insignificance and there he came upon an oyster lying in its shell upon the sand.

“It has no mind to be burdened by doubt,” mused the philosopher, “no fingers to work to the bone. It can never say, ‘My feet are killing me.’ It hears no evil, sees no television, speaks no folly. It has no buttons to come off, no zipper to get caught, no hair or teeth to fall out.” The philosopher sighed a deep sigh of envy.

“It produces a highly lustrous concretion, of great price or priceless,” he said, “when a morbid condition obtains in its anatomy, if you could call such an antic, anomalous amorphousness anatomy.” The philosopher sighed again and said, “Would that I could wake from delirium with a circlet of diamonds upon my fevered brow. Would, moreover, that my house were my sanctuary, as sound and secure as a safe-deposit vault.”

Just then a screaming sea gull swooped out of the sky, picked up the oyster in its claws, carried it high in the air, and let it drop upon a great wet rock, shattering the shell and splattering its occupant. There was no lustrous concretion, of any price whatever, among the debris, for the late oyster had been a very healthy oyster, and, anyway, no oyster ever profited from its pearl.

MORALS: Count your own blessings, and let your neighbor count his.
Where there is no television, the people also perish.

The Philosopher and the Oyster

James Thurber

James Grover Thurber (December 8, 1894 – November 2, 1961) was an American cartoonist, author, humorist, journalist, playwright, and celebrated wit. He was best known for his cartoons and short stories published mainly in The New Yorker magazine, such as "The Catbird Seat", and collected in his numerous books. He was one of the most popular humorists of his time, as he celebrated the comic frustrations and eccentricities of ordinary people.

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