I recently attended an awards ceremony where one of the keynote speakers shared a story to illustrate the value of struggle.
The story is called “The Moth and the Cocoon,” and its author is unknown. In it, a man finds the cocoon of an emperor moth. He takes it home so that he can watch the moth come out of the cocoon. On the day a small opening appeared, he sat and watched the moth for several hours as the moth 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. It just seemed to be stuck. Then the man, in his kindness, decided to help the moth, so he took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The moth then emerged easily.
But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The man continued to watch the moth 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 little moth 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 restrictive cocoon and the struggle required for the moth to pass through the tiny opening were a way of forcing fluid from the body of the moth into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon. Freedom and flight would only come after the struggle. By depriving the moth of its struggle, he deprived the moth of health.
As I sat taking in the story in parallel to all of the accomplishments of the award winners, I thought of our collective struggles as a nation, a state and in our communities.
I thought that this Thanksgiving season, instead of being thankful for all our blessings, we could be thankful for our struggles as we hold on to the hope of the promise of a silver lining, a lesson learned, a purpose renewed as we push through our cocoons.
Be it the political struggle that our nation endures, the financial struggles our state is experiencing or the personal struggles those living in our communities are facing, sometimes, these struggles, if looked at through the filter of hope, are exactly what we need to break through to a more refined, focused way of life. If we were allowed to go through our lives without any obstacles, maybe, like the moth in the story, we would be crippled. We would not be as strong as we could have been.
So, this Thanksgiving season, I am thankful for our struggles and the hope that from all that has happened this year, in our nation, our state and our communities, we will all emerge from our cocoons, in due time, majestic, strong and free – ready to fly and reach new heights as long as we do not lose hope.