Thursday, 14 May 2009

Courage of a Caterpillar

Have you ever thought of what makes a caterpillar wrap itself up in a dark cocoon and undergo an unknown transformation? That marvel of nature that allows such a metamorphosis from fat little ground dweller to object of soaring beauty.

Then there is the process of breaking free of the cocoon. There is a popular story of the man trying to help the butterfly this challenge. In brief, he had watched the butterfly struggle to force its body through a small gap in the cocoon with what appear to be little progress. So he decide to make things easier and enlarge the gap.

The butterfly emerged easily, but there was something odd. It had a swollen body and shriveled wings. As the man continued to observe the butterfly, expecting its wings to expand and enlarge and its body to shrink. But this didn't happen. The butterfly was destined to spend the rest of its short life crawling around with a fat body and deformed wings and never fly.

The man, while kind hearted, did not realize that the struggle out of the cocoon was nature's way of forcing the fluid from the butterfly's body into its wings so that it would be ready to soar once it had fully transformed. The struggle and the challenge was a vital part of the transformation process.

How do you view your own struggles and challenges? Often it is the obstacles that are placed in our way that make us stronger and more capable of achieving our dreams and reaching our destiny. If we avoid the struggles, we may be doing ourselves more harm than good. We may never give birth to our true self.

History is full of examples of success stories that won only because they refused to let the obstacles stop their progress towards triumph. Think of Beethoven who composed his greatest works after being struck with deafness. Albert Einstein was labeled a slow learner, retarded and unteachable. Thomas Edison tried over 2000 experiments before he found the right way to get his lightbulb to work.

General Douglas MacArthur had his application to West Point rejected, twice. Lucille Ball was turned away from Drama school. Buddy Holly was fired from his first record company for having no talent. Woody Allen failed English and motion picture production at university.

There is a quote from one of the greatest authors to have overcome adversity, Helen Keller. "Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambitions inspired and success achieved. Silver is purified in fire and so are we. It is in the most trying times that our real character is shaped and revealed."

So perhaps we need to take a lesson from the butterfly. Perhaps we need the struggles in order to spread our wings and transform. Ask yourself "What strengths lie in the caterpillar of your existence? And what butterfly is waiting to be born?"

"What the caterpillar calls the end of the world,
the Master calls a butterfly"

Richard Bach

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  1. OK someone glued my cocoon shut !

  2. Great story about the man helping the butterfly out of the cocoon. I had not heard it. Thanks for sharing.