Monday, June 15, 2009

Helping the butterfly

A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared. He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it had and it could go no further.

Then the man decided to help the butterfly, so he took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time.

Neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly.

What the man in his kindness and haste did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening were God's way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.

Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If God allowed us to go through our life without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as what we could have been. And we could never fly.

(author unknown)

I got this story long time back from a friend as a forwarded message. Since then, more than once I have had to think about this story. It applies so aptly to life and the decisions we have to take in our lives.

When it comes to helping our kids shape their future, it becomes a painful task of finding the right balance. On one hand is the feeling of letting them down, not helping them enough, not letting them have the benefit of our guidance, our wisdom, and the lessons we have learnt from our mistakes. Then on the other hand is the fear that if we help them too much we are providing them a crutch, spoiling them, ruining their chances of ever becoming a strong, motivated, winning individual.

Of course, they don't make it easy because they do want all the help we can provide but refuse to learn anything from our mistakes. Advice they'd always take with a grain of salt but help and support is always welcomed and often demanded.

Struggle is such an integral part of our life that there is not getting away from it. Until you tire your muscles to the point of exhaustion, your body will not grow new muscles. You will see no increase in stamina until and unless you drive your body the point of exhaustion and beyond it. The same applies to the brain, and any other resources we have.

Struggle defines us, it makes us what we are destined to be. I look back fondly on the 17 and 18 hours days now, but at that time they were murder for the body. I constantly had the sleep-deprived feeling in my eyes and never missed a chance to take a nap, even for 5 minutes.

I look back on the days when I used to work all day and then go to my friend's house at night. No, not to party, to study Visual Basic. The reasons for this were twofold, he had a computer and I didn't, plus he wanted to learn too and two heads are better than one. There I'd work all night with him on some VB project and maybe sleep 3 or 4 hours in the morning, then get ready and go back to work for a new day. I had fun in that, too. Struggle was a way of life, then and now.

How do you explain that, how do you instill that feeling into someone?

"What we acquire too easily, we value too little." Very true. But try telling that to a kid who wants to get ahead in life, quickly, easily and without any painful lessons.

There is an English expression - "Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind." I don't like it. It lacks a certain pizzaz, that flair which I like to have in my expressions. But unfortunately, I can't replace it and it is indeed a true saying.

Finding that balance, and making it work, seems to me tougher than balancing a mountain on the tip of your nose. And yet, when you see a little butterfly struggling it's hard to curb the impulse to grab the scissors...

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