Finding the virtue in struggle
Posted by Pauline Vetuna
Difficulties in life can be opportunities to learn, to grow and to take the high road. The other day I was cleaning through a box of old bits n’ pieces and found the poem below. Someone gave it to me ages ago when I was going through a bit of a rough patch – I do not know who wrote it. I always remember it when I’m going through a particularly shitty time. The butterfly is one of my totems, so naturally I think it is sweet (and I appreciated the sentiment of the person who gave it to me). Struggle in and of itself is not virtuous, but how we meet with the struggles, and our willingness to take the lessons (which are often painful, sometimes a necessary affront to our egos) can help us to grow and improve ourselves.
One day, as a young woman sat in her garden, she noticed a cocoon hanging from a nearby branch. Before long, a small opening appeared in the cocoon. The woman watched for several hours as the butterfly within struggled to free itself from the envelope in which it had recently been transformed. Then, it seemed to stop making any progress.It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could and it could not go any further. So the woman decided to help the butterfly: she took a pair of scissors and cut open the cocoon, from which the butterfly then emerged easily.
But, to the woman’s surprise, the butterfly didn’t fly away. Instead it crawled out onto the branch and sat there. As the woman looked more closely, she noticed the butterfly’s body was withered, its wings were tiny and shriveled. The woman continued to watch because she expected that, at any moment, the wings would open, enlarge and expand sufficiently to support the butterfly’s body. Neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a withered body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly…
What the woman, in her kindness and her goodwill did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening, were the Life Force’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 the Life Force allowed us to go through our life without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as we could be. Never been able to fly.