Lessons of the Butterfly
The Value of Struggle
One day a small opening appeared in a cocoon. A man sat and watched for the newly formed 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 could and could go no further. So the man decided to help the butterfly and taking out a pair of scissors he opened the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily, but it had a withered body and shriveled wings.
The man continued to watch because he expected at any moment that the wings would open, enlarge and the body would become firm – then it would fly away. But this never happened. In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a withered body and shriveled wings. It was never able to fly.
What the man in his kindness and goodwill did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening was nature’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight upon achieving its freedom from the cocoon.
Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in life. If we went through our lives without any struggles or challenges it would cripple us for we would not be as strong as we are and we would never have been able to fly.
Often kids become distressed at the number of difficulties they face. A culmination of school exams, juggling school with their sports and social lives, finding themselves, their quest for more independence etc.
And while these difficulties are often met with annoyance it is these difficulties that are helping shape their character. Where they may wish for an easier life, those kids who breeze their teen years usually lack coping skills once they have left school.
Where kids may crave to be an adult, adults often look back wishing they could become kids once again. Adults have to juggle their incomes with their debts (such as rent/mortgages, car payments, the cost of living etc). They have to be on the ball at work, meeting deadlines and quotas while then having to go home and support their families – and often with a lack of appreciation from their kids (who have their own struggles to deal with).
And where we may wish for things to be easier, for life’s problems to be taken off our hands, it is these struggles that continue to shape us to become the people we are today. If we want strength, we have life’s difficulties to make us strong. If we want wisdom, we have life’s problems to solve. If we want courage, we have life’s setbacks and obstacles to overcome. In life, we usually get what we need, not what we want.
You see the lesson of the butterfly is that after its struggle is complete, the butterfly emerges as a beautiful creature that adds wonder to any garden. After its struggle it does not come out bitter for what it has been through. To understand the value of your struggles, do not become a bitter person because of them, become instead – a butterfly.
The Value of Sacrifice
One day two caterpillars, George and Frank, were sitting on a branch. They were making the long journey (two feet) towards some juicy leaves to eat. All the while they were being aware of the many predators that stalked them – you see when you are a caterpillar there is no fast getaway from a hungry bird.
Now for the lives of George and Frank, from their branch, they had a wonderful view over a most beautiful garden. Yet sadly they could only view the garden and never actually experience it or seek adventure in it.
One day as they were chewing leaves the most beautiful butterfly landed nearby. They looked at it with awe. George remarked, “How I envy you, you are so beautiful and you have the freedom to fly wherever you chose in the garden. Your life must be truly amazing”. The butterfly looked at them and smiled and said “It is! I have seen many incredible things and been in many adventures in these past few days”. Then Frank asked, “But why only these past few days?” The butterfly again smiled and spoke warmly, “You see I too was once a caterpillar just like you, but I wanted more, so I made the sacrifice to become what I am today”. Both caterpillars were in disbelief, “But how?” they asked.
And so the butterfly told them of how he made many sacrifices when he decided to cocoon himself and become a butterfly. He told them that they too had the power to change their lives and come out a butterfly. He then flew off into the garden. “Amazing!!” they both exclaimed. “Do you really think we can become a butterfly and live like him?” Frank questioned. “He seemed to believe we could” replied George.
So now the two caterpillars were faced with a choice. George decided he wished to become a butterfly very much. But Frank told him it was a silly idea and was a waste of time. But George was serious. He no longer wished to be a spectator in the garden. So he made his cocoon and hopped in. Time passed and Frank continued doing what he’d always done, hanging out with his caterpillar friends – things were not too bad for Frank. Then one day as he was sitting overlooking the garden and wishing he could do something exciting a butterfly landed beside him. He looked up in disbelief… “George?” he asked. “Hi Frank” George called back. Frank was dumb-founded, his friend had become a butterfly and could live the life of his dreams!
You see the lesson of the butterfly is that you too have the power to change your life. Some things we wish for in life are easily attainable, but usually those things we desire most require us to make a sacrifice of some sort. Perhaps we need to sacrifice some time, money, junk food, energy etc in order to create this life change. But have no doubts, the power is within you, you just need to be like the George the caterpillar and believe in yourself and that which you desire.
You need to be prepared to make the necessary sacrifices and soon, like George, you can become a butterfly.