The following is an excerpt from the July 2012 DreamHost customer newsletter:
The Alligator King loved his swamp. It was beautiful and full of other nice alligators, all very skilled at doing alligator things. As its population grew the Alligator King was pleased to see the boundaries of his kingdom expand with the needs of his people. The denizens of the Alligator Kingdom were always able to eat their fill of fish, birds, and other tasty things that alligators liked to eat.
The Alligator King had heard tales of other, distant animal habitats, some far beyond the borders of his impressive swamp. While animals from different species didn’t tend to hang out much, they had always maintained a friendly distance and had a healthy respect for each other’s habitats. It was this mutual respect that kept the animal kingdom from descending into chaos, and an unwritten truce that the Alligator King was happy to be a part of.
Everything in the swamp was perfect. Or at least, it seemed that way.
Secretly the Alligator King yearned to leave the swamp and see the world. He wanted to spend time with hatchlings of his own and, frankly, running the swamp had become a bit of a chore. The King was eager to take on new challenges but felt shackled to a kingdom of reptiles looking to him for daily guidance. He felt imprisoned – trapped in a gilded cage of his own design.
One day The Alligator King received an intriguing proposition. A man wearing khaki pants identifying himself as a “zookeeper” from a tribe of “Environmental Impact Guys” wandered in on a rowboat and offered to take over the running of the swamp. He promised the King that the EIG team would continue to run things around the swamp as they always had been – with minimal changes. Plenty of alligators would continue to receive the same benefits they’d grown accustomed to, and the swamp itself would only continue to grow and flourish under their care.
In exchange, the Alligator King was promised an “airplane” of his very own with which he could roam the world and see whatever he wanted to see – do whatever he wanted to do. He would always be welcome to visit the swamp, of course, but the King was promised the one thing he wanted most of all – freedom.
Hours after placing his muddy clawprint on the paperwork handing control of the swamp over to EIG, the Alligator King relaxed alone on his favorite swamp-side hammock with a chilled swampwater martini. As the sun went down his ears gradually filled with the hypnotic chirping of crickets, the croaking of frogs, and the pluckings of a lone banjo off in the distance. He had grown up with these sounds and would miss them dearly.
While his bank account was full, the once and former king’s heart felt empty. He took a deep pull from his beverage and stretched out on his hammock, looking to the night sky for guidance.
Had he made the right decision? he wordlessly wondered to the crescent moon as it bobbed among the clouds. But no answer came. The moon could only cast light below on all that the Alligator King had worked to build since his 18th birthday.
All that lay before him was his no more – exchanged for his own freedom in a heated moment of wanderlust.
He didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
Soon enough he had his answer as a single tear escaped his double-eyelid. It dripped down his cheek and across his quivering lip to disappear silently into the murky waters below.
The moon cried for its friend, too.
(But on the dark side so no one could see.)