Once there was a man who lived in a dense forest. He cared for the trees and spoke with them every day. One morning, as he was drinking from the lake that watered the trees, he noticed his reflection mirroring his movements. He became fascinated by this spectre that was far more responsive than his shadow’s expressionless face. Never had he experienced such control. As he spent more and more time with his reflection, the trees grew restless and eventually died from neglect. The man was left alone with his reflection and the glaring sun.
Days passed and the man’s eyes began to fail. He saw in the reflection that the sun was unchanged, and he felt it mocking his slow demise. He turned his face to the sun and begged to know the secret of its ageless splendour. He pondered until he became enlightened, but his illumination was invisible to the world: frustrated total internal reflection. He imagined himself as a sunflower, rejoicing in the sunshine and feeding off its energy. The sun smiled patronisingly upon its new protégé and they danced through the summer. Autumn came and the flower began to wilt, filled with the hope of spring and a glorious new existence. The sun hid for the winter and the flower was killed in the first frost.
Spring came, and the sun was greeted only by its own harshly indifferent reflection. As the years passed and passed and passed, the sun burned the last of its vast resource. Swollen with age, it grew dull through orange and red, and finally shrank, a brown cinder, alone in the void.