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THE AMOEBA

    Once an amoeba visited a psychotherapist.
    It did so with great reluctance and only after repeated urgings from friends, who found its behavior increasingly difficult to explain. What concerned these friends was that the amoeba was acting in an erratic, unbalanced manner, continually changing as if at the mercy of multiple personalities.
    The amoeba explained all of this soon after entering the therapist’s office, saying it didn’t think it should be there but that it wanted to do what it could to get beyond the misunderstandings.
    “What do you think is the cause of those misunderstandings?” the therapist asked.
    “I don’t know,” the amoeba answered. “I’m just trying to live my life as best I can.”
    “How do you see that life?”
    “As we all see our lives, I would hope.”
    “And how do we all see our lives, do you think?”
    The amoeba responded with a puzzled expression, “Why, with infinite awe, I assume.”
    “And what does the expression ‘infinite awe’ mean to you, exactly?”
    “I guess it would mean something like believing that life has no confines.”
    “Do you think life should have no confines?”
    “Naturally.”
    “Very interesting. Can you tell me a little more about that?”
    “What’s there to tell? Each day, my life takes a new form, sometimes many new forms. Doesn’t everybody’s? I feel my life flowing this way and that in constant change. I feel it always growing, never standing still. Doesn’t that make sense?”
    “Does it make sense to you? That’s the important question.”
    “Honestly, I’ve never asked myself whether it made sense. It just seemed to be a law of the universe, so far as I could tell. Life goes on. I go on. Life takes a thousand shapes. I take a thousand shapes. Life is protean. I am protean. What else should it or I be?”
    “You say ‘protean’; is there a special meaning in that word for you?”
    “No. It’s like saying ‘air’ or ‘water.’ They just are, aren’t they? Regardless of what meaning I or anybody else might want to see in them.”
    “And what meaning do you see in them?”
    “None. I see them as part of the same thing that’s in me, that’s all. The same limitless flux of life.”
    “Do you think they should be?”
    “What do you mean?”
    “I mean,” the therapist explained, “do you ever think this inability to define limits, to recognize the line where you end and the rest of life begins, might be part of your problem?”
    “Problem?!”