by Rodger Stevens (with apologies to Richard Bach) Once upon a time, at the bottom of a fast-moving stream, lived a colony of water bugs. Their lives were spent scurrying over and under the rocks of the stream bed, scavenging the little bits of vegetation that grew there. Because of the relentless currents of the stream, the bugs had learned to move cautiously, crouching low against the rocks and holding on for dear life with their legs. This made their foraging efforts clumsy, and kept their faces turned against the rocks and away from the water flowing ceaselessly overhead, but that was the way they had been taught to live, and their culture demanded strict conformance. One day a young bug was out foraging when he happened to glance upward, a feat considered dangerous and foolhardy because it was easy to lose one's grip. The little bug had almost never looked upward, so he was enthralled with the colors and the swirling images up there. Then suddenly, amidst the splash of color, he saw a familiar shape ... it was a water bug like him, except that this bug was flying gracefully and effortlessly through the swirling water. He called to the mysterious flying bug, for he had not yet learned to be afraid of strangers. The bug glided downward through the churning water and landed in a sheltered lee. "How is it that you can fly?" asked the little bug with unmasked awe. The flying bug looked at him for a moment, smiled, and said, "I am no different than you. You can fly too." "Oh, no, I could never do that," protested the little bug. "Why, it is well known that if we were to loosen our grip on the rocks, we would be dashed to pieces and swept away by the current. We have to stay low to save our lives. Everybug knows that!" "Yeah, that's what they told me, too," said the flying bug. "'Don't ever get high ... stay low!' is what they said. But I'll tell you something ... considering the energy it takes to stay low, and considering the wondrous things you can see when you let go, it is well worth the risk. And besides, the tumbling doesn't last long." After they had talked about the wonders above, the flying bug crawled to the edge of a rock and, smiling over his shoulder, let go and was instantly whisked off by the flowing water. The little bug thought about this for a long time. It certainly wasn't fun spending his life clinging frantically to the bottom of the stream, even though that's what the other bugs did all their lives. And if only a fraction of what the flying bug had told him was true, it might just be worth the risk. Finally the little bug decided it was time. It was hard to let go of the rock, but as one and then another foot released its life-long grip. The little bug was suddenly swept loose from the safety of the rock. He was bounced over and over again, and he could see other bugs watching him in anguish and sadness, unable to help. But soon the jostling became less, and he was being carried upward by the currents, and the little bug discovered that by moving his legs in a certain way, he could actually fly. For the first time in his life he realized that his place was to fly free and unfettered through the midst of the torrent, not to cling frantically to the scummy bottom of life. He looked down and saw another little bug looking up at him in awe and admiration, calling out to him, and he smiled.