A little pool among the boulders on the beach lay warming itself in the sunshine. A gentle breeze rippled its surface, and tiny wavelets softly lapped upon the margin of the basin where it lay. "Here is my little kingdom," thought the pool every time one of its wavelets broke upon its boundary line. Other pools lay in sight and it was pleasant to compare its ample size, its graceful contour, and its flashing surface, with the lesser attractions of the neighboring pools. Far down the beach lay the ocean, a vast pool which seemed to have no boundaries and whose immeasurable range terrified the timid little pool lying in its petty isolation, behind the guardian ramparts which protected it from all association with its kind. "Here in solitary splendor I shall lie for ever," it mused, "shielded from all contamination with inferior pools and widely separated by a sloping stretch of sand from that appalling ocean whose rhythmic murmurs sound so faint and far away."
Small fish and gray shrimps darted to and fro about its shallows, and it was pleasant to feel itself the patron and protector of these small fry, and to reign as a monarch without a rival in its little kingdom. The sun grew hotter, and mounted the blue arch overhead, while the murmur of the distant waves grew louder as the time went by. "What would become of me if the waves should ever flood the beach?" thought the little pool. "My beautiful, clear water would be mixed with the other pools, and one and all would be engulfed in that vast ocean whose waves sound louder and louder."
The tide was surely creeping up the beach. The long, blue breakers glided to the front and broke in thunder thereon. The liquid ruins were drawn back over the rattling pebbles; but always rose again with added volume and a louder roar. The pool trembled at the thought of its approaching destruction, until at last one towering billow breaking loose from the tossing multitude fell headlong with a sounding roar, poured its white cataract of boiling foam into the pool, and floated it away to mingle with the mighty deep.
No longer capable of thinking as a pool, an exultant surge of feeling soon drowned all sense of separated life. Its outlines melted in immensity. It had become the boundless sea itself. The petty throbbing of its individual life took on the grander rhythm of the ocean's giant heart. The breaking up of the limits of personal existence was the moment of its triumphant entry into the larger life, just as the man who loses himself in serving his fellows, grows suddenly great, and finds himself one with the Heart of the Universe.
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