Once upon a time there was a tiny hermit crab who found a tiny shell for a home. When she grew too big for her tiny shell, she looked for a slightly larger shell. This happened many times, until one day she had the largest and most beautiful shell of all the hermit crabs.
The other crabs admired her large and beautiful shell, and they told her so whenever they met. Many crabs envied her large, beautiful shell and wanted large, beautiful shells of their own.
When it was safe she would clean the algae and barnacles off her shell. She was very proud of her large, beautiful shell and worked hard to keep it clean.
The crab lived for many years, but finally her strength started to give way. She began to shrink. At first the shell seemed only a little too big, but eventually it was an enormous burden to drag around on the bottom of the ocean.
It became so heavy that she didn’t have the strength to find food. She became so feeble that it wasn’t safe to leave her shell to eat the algae that covered her massive edifice.
One day another hermit crab said to her, “Why don’t you find a shell that fits you?”
She answered, “But it does fit me! It’s a beautiful shell!” She was confused. She didn’t understand why her large, beautiful shell was impossible to move.
The day came when she stopped trying to move the huge shell. It was totally covered with algae and barnacles. The shell was a safe place to hide because it looked just like the rest of the sea floor. But the tiny hermit crab was so small that she couldn’t move it, not a single inch.
From then on she could only hide inside the shell and wait for little morsels of food to crawl near or to come floating by.
The hermit crab lived this way for a long time. Occasionally a larger bit of food would drift by, and she would eat it and feel energized. She would peek
out from under her massive shell, but always decide it was too dangerous to look for a better house.
Then her energies subsided again. And the old hermit crab got smaller and smaller and smaller.
After many years, the old hermit crab died. As her body decayed, bits of flesh floated away and were eaten by little fish and baby hermit crabs.