The Little Boy and the Cocoon

By Henry Miller

A young boy walked up to his grandfather who was sitting and looking at something in his hand.

“What is that?” the little boy asked.

“It’s a Cocoon.” His grandfather told him. “Inside this Cocoon is a butterfly. Soon the Cocoon will split and the butterfly will come out.”

“Could I have it?” asked the little boy.

“Yes,” said his grandfather, “but you must promise me that when the Cocoon splits and the butterfly is beating its wings to get, you won’t help it.” Don’t help the butterfly by breaking the Cocoon apart. Let it get out by itself.”

The little boy promised, he took the Cocoon home, and then sat and watched. Finally, he saw it begin to vibrate, move, and quiver. At last the Cocoon split. Inside was a beautiful damp butterfly, frantically beating its wings against the Cocoon, trying to get out.

The butterfly didn’t seem to be able to get free and the little boy desperately wanted to help. Finally, he gave in and disobeyed his grandfather’s orders. He pushed the two halves of the Cocoon apart and the butterfly sprang out. As soon as it got up into the air, it fell down to the ground and died.

The little boy picked up the dead butterfly and in tears, went back to his grandfather and showed him.

“Grandson,” His grandfather said with sadness, “You pushed open the Cocoon, didn’t you?”

“Yes,” said the little boy, “I did.”

The grandfather in all his wisdom explained, “You don’t understand. When the butterfly flies free from the Cocoon, the only way it can strengthen its wings is by beating them against the Cocoon. It beats against the Cocoon so its muscles will grow strong. When you helped it the way you did, you prevented it from getting strong enough to fly. That’s why the butterfly fell to the ground and died.

Lesson for us humans…

It’s so important for us to make mistakes.

It is equally important for us to allow the people in our lives, especially our children, to make their own mistakes. We all need to carve out our individual paths in life and we can only know what feels right for us by making mistakes and recovering.

Yes, help, advice, and assistance are essential. But we cannot do so much that we prevent people from falling or making mistakes. This is where the lessons are learned and the new skills we need to acquire in life are attained.

Original story “Why the Butterfly Died” by Henry Miller

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