The Fable of Earth and Jupiter

Once upon a time, there was a proud, hard working, and just a little bit self-important guy named Earth. He was really good at what he did. He was a beautiful blue and green, and had many, many little creatures that he took care of. There were small and large creatures, smart and silly creatures, fast and slow ones, but whether on his land or in his water, he cared for them and saw that they had what they needed to thrive. And thrive they did, and he was very proud of his work in that regard. Around him, and bound to his orbit was a beautiful, silver haired woman named Moon. They worked really well together, cooperated on everything, and in a way, each enhanced the other. Earth was larger, with his blues and greens shining out toward Moon. Moon was smaller, but her beautiful, bright silver illuminated the nighttime on Earth and brought a certain wonder and mystery to Earth’s creatures that he nurtured and took care of. Earth was in charge of this happy family, and he took a lot of pride in that.

The whole family spent their days in the orbit of a much, much larger father-figure, Sun. Sun was warm and gracious and friendly, and provided the essence of life to Earth’s family, and Earth was thankful. Sun was so much bigger, and his yellow shone out so much brighter, that Earth never presumed to try to be Sun, or take Sun’s place. Earth was blue and green. He could never be such a bright yellow.

There were other parts of Sun’s family that orbited him like Earth did. There was a dry, angry little red-headed man named Mars that just sat and brooded a lot. There was a bright, hot-headed, gassy woman named Venus who just talked all the time and would never shut up. There was little Mercury. In a weird way, it was closest to Sun and they had a funny, tight relationship, but no one really understood why, what they talked about, or even quite what Mercury really was. But it didn’t matter, no one really cared all that much. And then there were the Asteroids. They were a crazy, messy group of workers way out on the edge of the Inner Area that were all very small, not very pretty, didn’t have much personality, but there were a lot of them, and they just worked every day and didn’t complain, so it wasn’t hard to have them around. Earth knew these other folks in Sun’s family, but didn’t talk to them too much. It wasn’t that he didn’t like them, it was just that he wasn’t in charge of them—they were Sun’s problem—and he was busy focusing on taking care of his own family. Sun, for his part, had plenty of time for Earth, warming him and his family with a nice yellow glow, coaching and encouraging Earth’s creatures to grow and do their best. And Earth was proud. And also just a little bit protective of and dependent on this time with Sun. It meant a lot to him. But Sun was always generous enough, and so Earth was happy.

Until one day when Earth was feeling particularly comfortable and competent and started staring off in space looking at the Outer Areas. It was then that he noticed a really large guy out there. Way out in an area he didn’t even really know was Sun’s territory. The guy was named Jupiter. Jupiter was confusing to Earth. He was huge, first of all, about one tenth the size of Sun, which seemed impossibly large. And he was made entirely of gas, like Sun, but didn’t glow the same way. Instead he was complex, indiscernible, with all kinds of swirling colors rotating around in his atmosphere, including one giant red spot which sometimes was tame, and sometimes seemed to erupt with intensity, defining Jupiter like no other feature. More and more, Sun seemed to really like Jupiter. They were fundamentally the same: both were large balls of gas; Jupiter could one day be a Sun, a father figure himself if only he got bigger, glowing yellow and nurturing a family of his own, and he probably would be some day, Earth thought. Sun and Jupiter spent their time talking and laughing and seemed to be really close. Earth received just as much warmth and light from Sun as usual, but it seemed like now something was missing. Sun looked past Earth when he was talking to Jupiter. They were so different: one rocky and wet and blue-green, and one huge and gassy and multi-colored, a giant, much more like Sun than like Earth. And Jupiter was way out there, in the Outer Areas, travelling exotic places, learning unknown things. Plus he had a large following: four big orbiting friends and many other smaller ones. Compared to Earth’s small creatures and one, delicate, silver-haired partner, Jupiter seemed like a King. There was an even more exotic, more distant guy out there too, a little beyond Jupiter. With crazy rings, and thousands of icy orbiters, he was smaller than Jupiter yet also a big ball of gas, way bigger than Earth, and he had certain style and panache that was indescribably cooler and sleeker than even Jupiter’s. Together with Sun they made an exciting trio, one Earth felt he could never compete with, let alone be a part of.

One day when Sun, Jupiter and Saturn (as the good looking, stylish guy with all the rings was called) were off on one of their trips, way off in some foreign place, talking and cavorting and having a grand time together, Earth’s blue color was feeling particularly blue. But through this melancholy cloud he had gotten himself into, Earth noticed something—something small on his surface. Some of his creatures were waking up for the morning. They were cute and happy and contented. He’d miss them if he had to go off on some exotic foreign voyage in the Outer Areas. His beautiful Moon was shining brightly in her dark, luxurious orbit around him. She was so lovely some mornings; he couldn’t believe his luck in having her around. The soft waves of her presence washed over his seas and the happy creatures in them, and slowly that morning, he started to not feel so blue. Sun hadn’t left him; he was still around. He just had other friends. And Earth liked his little Inner Area, albeit with angry Mars and crazy Venus and mysterious Mercury hanging around. He wouldn’t want to live in the Outer Areas anyway. How cold and distant it must be! He was good at what he did here. He had creatures and Moon around him who loved him. He didn’t need Sun’s company as much as he thought he did, just like Sun didn’t really rely on him either, after all. He realized he was happy to receive the yellow rays that he did get from Sun, and all was right with his world right here. And Earth’s green contentment glowed a little brighter that morning, and he felt a lot less blue.

***

Way, way out, beyond the Outer Areas, beyond Sun’s closest peer and friend, Mr. Centauri, way beyond thousands of other men and women like Sun, beyond even Sun’s ability to see what was further out there, a benevolent face looked down. In some mythologies, it was called Milky, but no one really knew for sure. It looked down on the little tiny family that Sun had assembled, and the little tiny problems that Sun’s family sometimes had, and chuckled quietly to itself, smiling just a little.

***

Be good at what you do, thankful for what you have, don’t be jealous of others—you wouldn’t want to be them anyway—and always know, no matter what position you’re in, there’s always someone or something higher than you.

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