comfort cripples us

A girl once found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day, a small opening appeared on it. Fascinated by this, she sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to get its body past through that little gap. After many attempts, it suddenly stopped. It looked like it was stuck and didn’t make any more movements for a long time. 

Seeing the butterfly struggle so hard to come out of the hole, the girl decided to help it in this process. She took a pair of scissors and snipped off whatever portion of the cocoon remained unopened. As a result, the butterfly emerged easily without any effort, although she observed that it had a swollen body and small, wrinkled wings.

The girl didn’t think too much about it and waited for the wings to enlarge to support the butterfly, but that never happened. Unfortunately, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with tiny wings and a swollen body, unable to fly like other butterflies. 

Although the girl was trying to help the butterfly, in her kindness and impatience, she did not understand that the struggle by the butterfly to come out of the cocoon was an essential part of its life-cycle as it forced the fluid from the body into the wings so that they would develop fully equipping it to be ready for flight once that was achieved.

We need struggles in our life for our growth and holistic development. We need obstacles in our way, and instead of going around them, we need to go through them, because that’s what we are supposed to do. As the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius wrote in his personal reflections, “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”

Comfort and having a lack of obstacles cripple us. When we take shortcuts in life, either by ourselves or under someone’s influence, we stunt our personal growth and eventually our success. If we want to fly, we need to have strong wings, and in order to develop them, it’s incredibly important that we tackle challenges that come our way on our own. In his book The Obstacle is the Way, Ryan Holiday instructs, “The obstacle in the path becomes the path. Never forget, within every obstacle is an opportunity to improve our condition.” If we want to live a life enriched with success, self-reliance and freedom, then we need to face obstacles and we need to struggle.