Part 2 – On the Upper Shelf

New dimensions reveal themselves.
No need for searching.

On the Upper Shelf

Cedric enjoyed his adventure trail more and more while eating, thinking and climbing. There were already soft sandy patches in the crevices of the wall. He was too busy noticing them, but when the ground changed, away from steepness and gradually turned almost level and the end of his climb arrived, he was very happy.

When starfish get excited, they can’t go yeeha, since they have no vocal cords. Instead, they squeeze all the little muscles around the little suction cups, round about 360, all at once. This squeezes all their content out in one blast. With the result, the starfish lifts off for a small jump in a sandy cloud. They love it.

Cedric had many reasons to squeeze as hard as he could, and he lifted off the ground twice as high as usual, twice the height of his body. The sand cloud was at least four times as big. If anyone would have been nearby, all they would have seen was the sand cloud but not the jump. However, when you are so excited, whether or not someone has been watching, does not matter at all.

A short time later, after some more and easy climbing, the ground was covered with the softest sand he had ever experienced, so inviting for a rest. He gladly succumbed the temptation, and with a deep sigh, he shivered himself well into the soft ground, eye and all.

After he had woken up, he felt hungry. If you are looking for the one common habit amongst all living beings, here it is: The first question they ask, after waking up: “What’s for breakfast?” Cedric was feeling around with his tentacles, all six of them and he noticed, there was hardly any food around. The sand was softer, it moved around more, which was fun, sort of, it was warmer, but definitely less food.

Since there is something good in every situation, Cedric combined his fitness training while looking for food. How practical. As he moved leisurely around, a thought about his physical structure challenged him. It was still about having six tentacles. In particular: where is front and where is rear.

Allow me to refresh your memory: Common knowledge about defining front and rear is, one tentacle in the direction of vision is front, two is rear. One tentacle in the direction of motion is forward, two tentacle means reverse. In Cedric’s situation, this rule cannot apply any longer.

He could change the rule to: ‘One in front and three pointing back’. But, because in the middle of three is always one, you end up with one in front and one at the rear. No, this does not help. He was very flustered, almost agitated.

Time was far too enjoyable now and exploring this newly discovered land far more appealing. ‘It’s a good problem to ponder over after dinner.’ He enjoyed pondering at such times, so, for now, this was settled.

The ceiling of the world looked very different here. It was never smooth, it had grooves all the time, they always moved, and the ground moved slowly in harmony with them.


You can see, he was very focused on his thoughts, when he gently bumped into something solid, obstructing his food collecting, meandering path.

Making his first Friend

It was an unusual, corkscrew shaped shell, coloured quite attractively. As he was contemplating over its unusualness and its appeal, suddenly, the shell moved, jerkingly. Or was his eye fooling him? Now, it happened again. Testing, he moved his front tentacle, oops, the one closest to the shell and tapped on it ever so gently.

The shell fell on its side, and there was a fuzzy little thing moving ecstatically. His hearing capacity was alarmed to the limit by a screaming yell:
…“Can’t you watch what you are doing? Are you completely non-compos mentis?”

Cedric was spellbound, even his hearing. Was it the sound of this voice or the words he had heard or what he saw? It was small and moved so fast with its tentacles, and they are so shockingly thin and pointy. He watched with a mix of sadness and amusement when the fuzzy thing exclaimed:
…“Oh, sure, what could it be? A seastar, blindly maundering around and slumbering as always. And look at this, on top of all, it has only six legs.”

‘Only six legs!’ resonated in his mind like all the bells of Big Ben ringing at once. (Of course, Cedric would not know what this would sound like. But if he would have, this would have been his line of thinking.)
…“Only six legs! Only six legs! Only six legs!” Cedric gasped.
…“Yes, only six, you clumsy imbecile.” ‘Fuzzy’ replied at the top of its voice.

Still unable to collect any of his impressions, Cedric stuttered:
…“I am really awfully sorry. Terribly, awfully, really.”
…“And so you ought.” The answer shot back at him. Cedric decided to remain silent. Fuzzy stopped talking too. For a moment.
…“At least you admit when you are at fault,” the next phrase came across.
…“I really am,” he confirmed quickly; his eye was almost all pulled in, blinking nervously in silence. In an almost normal tone Fuzzy said:
…“I have never seen a seastar with an eye.”

Could this be the start of a conversation?
…“I come from further down, and I am a starfish.”
…“Starfish, seastar, all the same. Don’t you try to be smart with me… What do you mean: Further down?”

Henry grey

Henriette von Hermit-Krabbe

Eagerly, at the same humbly as well as submissively, Cedric explained:
…“I climbed up a steep piece of hard sand. Now it is flat again.”
…“Seastars can’t climb,” Fuzzy interrupted, “preposterously impossible.”

Trying to smoothen the waves Cedric continued calmly:
…“May I introduce myself? I am Cedric Mauritius.”
…“Oh… pretentious, are we now? Being a learned person now… speaking in Latin? Surprise, surprise.” This was spoken in stifled humour, followed by:
…“My name is Henriette von Hermit-Krabbe,” said in a pride tone of voice and a staccato accent.
…“Pleased to meet you,” Cedric replied politely. And keeping the flow of conversation going, he cast out a compliment: “What a nice shell you have.”
…“It is my humble habitat, one endeavours all to make it pleasant,” Henriette replied from high above, as speaking about the castle of Versay.
…“This must be very handy, to have your shelter, sorry, habitat always with you.”
…“Sometimes a bit cumbersome, but mostly very practical.”

Cedric remembered ‘Only six legs!’ and tentatively asked:
…“Henriette von Hermit-Krabbe, may I ask you a question?”
…“A question?” came a high tone reply, “and what question would this be?”
…“I heard you use a phrase… only six legs… tentacles, I assume?”
…“How foolish of you, one should never assume. Legs… tentacle, all the same.”
…“Sorry, my question was not about the tentacles,” Cedric felt a bit stubborn, “it is about the only six legs.” “Naturally, all higher beings have more than six legs, but how would you know?” His slight stubbornness had been trumped in a most cunning tone.

This was how Cedric and Henriette met. Cedric pulled his eye in and even retracted his tentacles as much as he could; an image of intense tension. Easily you can imagine, how Henriette placed Cedric under perturbed scrutiny, taken aback by Cedric’s sudden withdrawal.

Only ‘slightly surprised’ she would admit to herself. And not for too long so that it could be interpreted as showing interest, let alone, caring. Then she shrugged sniffily, shouldered her humble habitat and scurried onwards, self-absorbed as if nothing had happened.


After a while, being inside and a bit intense, Cedric concluded to change his mood, and the best way he found was to focus on something interesting and important. Sifting and sorting out all the information would help to divert. He had been exposed to so much in such a short time, he was almost sliding down the learning curve. Percolating the news was easier. Firstly: ‘Only six legs!’

‘Henry’ as he called her, had many more tentacles. She moved them so quickly, he had been unable to count. Besides, keeping the conversation going, demanded engagement of every bit of brain available. Cedric concluded: ‘Other beings can have more than, not only five, no, but more than six tentacles,’ something he never had considered being possible at all.

Except for Henry, he had never seen a being with more than five tentacles. He could only see several of his tentacles at a time, he only could feel them all. As astonishing as this may be, he moved this situation sidewards, permitting the future to provide what he needed to know.

With great surprise, he realised that two unlikely beings, like him and Henry, with extreme difference in appearance and nature, could still talk with each other. Not the slightest slither of doubt had inflicted upon their conversation.


On a pragmatic side, he thought it useful to have a protective shelter nearby. Carrying it around could turn out somewhat cumbersome, he agreed with Henry. Starfish only know about shivering into the sand. Often this offers not much protection against predators.

He lifted his eye and scanned the area for a shell big enough for him and one that had not been occupied by its original builder or a hermit crab. Soon he was on his way with a new mission. Small practical tasks never fail to lift one up from emotional insolences.

A Miracle

Like so often he looked at the ceiling of the world, daydreaming, what a fantastic way to spend some time. Very sudden, there occurred a big dent in the ceiling. In its centre appeared a big greenish, longish thing tumbled to the ground. As it was descending, brightly coloured, perfect spheres appeared on one end, and, like attached to a string, they rose quickly to the ceiling.

When it touched the ground a small cloud of dust rose, then it lay on the ground, motionless. It was longish, five times Cedric’s tentacle span and at least twice his span high, sort of.

After a while curiosity pushed Cedric to explore this thing. He probed with the tip of his front tentacle, the one closest to the thing. Its surface felt very hard and smooth, and to his utter amazement, he could sort of see the other side, what was behind this thing. How can something be so hard and you can still see through it?

He was intensely intrigued. Being such an experienced climber now, cautiously, he climbed up one side. It did not move. When he was on top, his sideward tentacles could not embrace it even half way round. He slid to one end and found it was closed off, flat. Near the other end, it was coming down, and there was a smooth round opening.

Meeting Henry again

Slightly confused, he looked up, raised his eye and looked around, like looking for an answer. Low and behold from his elevated vantage point he could look over the next sand hill, and there was Henry cruising along. He called out, and Henry stopped.

Her eyes popped out from under the edge of her shell. She was surprised. Last time she had seen Cedric, he had been all knotted up, and now, he was sitting on top of a shiny greenish thing, some sort of a shell, indubitably.

Intrigued she crawled over, not too fast, not wanting to show her curiosity.
…“What are you doing up there?” she reprimanded in a mother to child tone.
…“It fell down from the ceiling.”
…“AND?” she persisted.
…“I am exploring it.” Since there is no need for it, she asked:
…“What for?”
…“I wonder what it is.”

As they were talking, Henry had slowly arrived at the end with the hole, and she was convinced: “It is some sort of a shell.”

Cedric was impressed by the precision of her mind and her wisdom. He asked: “Could I use it as my shell?”

These were the first sensible words Henry had heard Cedric say. And, being a pragmatic hermit crab, she suggested it could a preliminary shell shelter for Cedric. ‘What a brilliant thought,’ she had to admit to herself.

stuck in bottle

Stuck in a Bottle

Cedric was so excited, he wanted to jump, but with Henry around, he felt intimidated. Trying to be practical he moved to the opening to slide inside his shell, eye first. It was tricky because his suckers were on the other side of his tentacles. Slowly but surely he nudged his way in. But then, with whatever he tried, there was no way of moving the smallest bit further, as if there was an invisible barrier. He felt stuck, he was stuck, and a nervous worry began rising.

Henry knew everything about getting in and out of shells. She could see Cedric’s problem.
…“Come back out” she called out, Henry was worried:
…“Let go.”

Cedric in his nervousness just followed her advice. He let go, and he popped out as if something had pushed him. Had there been something inside, he could not see?

…“You need to go in sidewards so that what is inside the thing can come outside. Never mind what it is.”

Taking a few deep breath to calm his nerves, Cedric stretched himself out as thin a possible and tried again. This time it was so much easier because he could use his suckers to move and as he was sliding inside, something was rushing past him, outwards. (Cedric had discovered one of Archimedes’ laws. ‘One space can only be occupied by one thing at the same time.’)

Once inside, he crawled and climbed all around, sometimes upside down. He was happy. Henry sensed Cedric’s joy and could not suppress a smile or was it even a mild chuckle? For a while, Cedric had forgotten all around him. Then he remembered Henry.
…“Could this really be my shell?”
…“Definitely,” Henry replied. They were both very happy.

All excited, Cedric exclaimed:
…“Are we friends, now?”

Touched by mild surprise, Henry felt something mellow inside, no one had ever asked her to be friends with. She wanted to say more, but all that came out was:
…“For sure.”

Cedric slipped out of his shell and let himself drop the small distance from the opening into the soft sand. All this excitement made him feel starved. Together they roamed around, eating and enjoying having found a friend. They hardly noticed that the darkening of the ceiling had begun. It was time to rest.

Henry just pulled back inside her shell and closed the door (one of her special shaped claws). Climbing inside Cedric’s new home was slightly awkward. He had to climb up on the side, then move forward to the opening. The tricky bit was to slide inside from the top. Since starfish are very flexible and he enjoyed a good stretch before going to sleep.

He rested his eye in the dent on top of his centre part and looked up to the ceiling of the world. There were the lights, as always. Yes, all looked greenish, but he began to like it this way.

The After Dinner Investigation

So much happened during this day, this long, long day. In the morning he was still finalising his climb. Still, he remembered this confusion, about where front and rear was supposed to be when a starfish has six tentacles.

Stylised Starfish going forwart normal

Regular Starfish, five tentacles

Allow me to refresh your memory: Common knowledge about defining front and rear is, one tentacle in the direction of vision is front, two is rear. One tentacle in the direction of motion is forward, two tentacle means reverse. In Cedric’s situation, this rule cannot apply any longer.

The rule could be changed to: ‘one in front and three pointing back’, but in the middle of three is always one. So you end up with one in front and one at the rear. No, this does not help.

Now, was ‘after dinner’ and a good time for nutting things out. And since Cedric is a visual thinker, he likes drawing pictures, mostly in his mind. “A picture can say more than a thousand words,” he wishes to add. Cedric drew in his mind a picture like the one I sketched above, a stylised ‘regular’ starfish (five tentacles) and what is front and what it means to go forward.

Here is the dilemma. Cedric has two conflicting deeply programmed senses meaning ‘forward’. The fat arrow is the direction he intends to go, the small arrow is his learned behaviour, what he knows and believes: ‘forward’ is the direction in which ONE tentacle points.

Stylised Starfish going forward Cedric

Cedric’s Dilemma

Now, he understood a problem he had often faced in the past, a problem appearing insurmountable. He wanted to go in one direction but ended up somewhere else. Generally, this was not much of a concern, food is everywhere. But when he wanted to go home, he had to correct his direction of walking, every now and so often.

Extending his thought, he realised that previously, he had been going in circles unless he had a target in sight.

Cedric was pleased with his clear, clean thoughts and deductions. He said goodbye to the lights at the ceiling of the world, sent a warm feeling to his new friend Henry, and just before he went into the land of Morpheus, he wondered mildly, about what would happen tomorrow.

Life in a Shell

Time passed, as it always does. Cedric enjoyed his stationary lifestyle, in particular, his special shell. Long gone were the days when he felt awkward sliding in, it has become as routine as walking in a straight line. At night he would look up at the ceiling, while he was in the safety of his shell. The other good thing was, Henry was never far away.

They met every day, at least once, and sometimes they would go out for a meal. Henry knew the best feeding grounds since they enjoyed the same menu. She only picked a bit here and there, with appreciation. She always complained about food making her body unshapely. Cedric smiled and gobbled quietly. She liked him, and he liked her, that’s what mattered.

Still, by nature, starfish love moving around for feeding. His shell was too big and cumbersome to carry around. Cedric could not move it with all the might of his six tentacles and about 360 little suckers. This thing was definitely stationary. He discussed the matter in depth with Henry.

They agreed about many things, all the advantages of having a shell. But really, it was about them staying together, friends do not come often. Since Henry was more practical, she realised, staying was too much against Cedric’s innate nature. She cared very much for him, so she told him.

Cedric felt guilty admitting his restlessness and urge to go, battling with the desire to stay and his natural instinct to move on.
…“I will come back,” he promised, actually believing it at the time. Henry smiled knowingly.
…“You have a safe journey… And when you have a quiet moment, remember our friendship, occasionally.”
…“I will.  Absolutely.”

He started walking, a small sigh of many feelings escaped. This time he made sure, his intended direction was the way he was aiming for and not being misled by his six tentacles. Several times he thought of turning around and waving to Henry, but he didn’t, he couldn’t. Then he did turn around. He could not see her, anymore.

End of Part 2


Amadeus W.

06 October 2014
heart chacra green blue purple orange low

Move on to Part 3 – Making Friends
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