Three stories, one lesson. When I was a small boy, I remember a time visiting my grand parents. It must have been summertime because a large umbrella was out to protect the ladies from the sun. My grand mother was telling the other adults about why she had not spoken to her sister in a long time. As a matter of fact, I believe she never spoke to her sister after a particular incident. Her mother had a small chest where family heirlooms were kept and certain items were promised to my grandmother. As a matter of fact, every child had certain items set aside for them. Now, came a sad time where my grandmothers mother had passed on, and while everyone was at the funeral and the following family get together, one person was notably missing from the funeral and family gathering. It was my grand mothers sister. It turns out that while everyone was mourning the passing of that family member, The sister had brought a large moving truck to the house and stripped that house of everything, including the chest of heirlooms for each of the other children. That sister had the attitude that she was owed those things. That she had a right to take everything. She even refused to give the other siblings the particular items that were set aside for them.
I saw the emotional scars that were left on my grand mother. I saw all the emotion and pain that she was fighting and even the hurt that she never again was able to have a relationship with her sister. And I do believe my grandmother never spoke to her sister again. Lesson 1
Then, later in my life, I was told of the story of the butterfly and the boy. You must have heard of this children’s story, but to recap, a boy had found a beautiful caterpillar and asked if he could keep it. With his parents permission, the boy watched in utter fascination as the caterpillar would eat the leaves that the boy put in the jar and would climb up all the sticks. Then, the boy noticed that the caterpillar started doing something odd. It started to build a cocoon. The boy was told by his parents that the caterpillar was about to go through a change and turn into a butterfly. The boy was anxious and wanted to witness this metamorphosis. Now the day came that the boy saw the caterpillar start to bite a small hole in the cocoon and struggle to get out. The boy was afraid that the caterpillar would die, so he got a small pair of scissors and made the hole bigger so that the caterpillar/butterfly could emerge as it did. Then the boy watched as this butterfly had a fat body and small shrivelled wings. The boy kept anticipating that the wings would get bigger and the body of the butterfly would get smaller. The parents had to tell the boy that the caterpillar actually needed to struggle to force the fluid from its body and into the wings. Because the boy had helped the caterpillar out, the butterfly did not struggle enough to make the body smaller and the wings bigger. The butterfly never flew. Its beautiful potential was never reached because the boy did not understand. The boy did not do this out of malice, but the damage was none the less devastating. Now I can understand the meaning of this story in real life. I have seen someone that was never forced to ‘struggle’ in life and now, so many years later this person is not capable of handling life’s struggle and stress. Lesson 2
Then, I remember the story of Rip Van Winkle. A man who became complacent in his life to the point that his farm and crops had become neglected. While escaping his nagging wife, he hikes up the mountain only to find other gentlemen drinking but not talking. Rip Van Winkle drinks with these men and falls asleep only to wake later, after the Revolutionary war is over. Rip is now twenty some years older, his wife and friends, even is dog are all dead. Life had passed him by, his life had been deemed a waste and everything he held dear was gone. I have become complacent, out of shape and unprepared for the upcoming struggle. But unlike Rip Van Winkle, I still have some time. Lesson 3
So now, I can understand these stories and place real world value to them.
In lesson 1, I learned not to expect an inheritance. I work hard for what I have and make it perfectly clear when it is my time to go, who gets what and to make it an equitable and even split. To make sure all of my kids are treated equally and that everyone knows who gets what and to put it all in a will so that there are no questions, hurt feelings and damaged relationships.
Lesson 2, I learned that I can not and should not interfere with all my children’s life’s struggles. That it is necessary to struggle and find your own way in life once you are 18 years old. That those life’s struggles shape and form a child into adulthood. That I should be there if they ask for advice but to let them find their own path in life. That a person actually needs those struggles so that they can make their own way in life and not rely on others or the government.
Lesson 3, I learned hopefully in time, to prepare and not be lulled into sleep by complacency. That I should be thankful for what I have and yet not be so lazy as to not prepare for the future. There will be a time when our children need to be taught and prepared to provide for themselves and it is up to us, those not asleep, to teach a new generation not to rely on anyone other than themselves. You see, if you rely on others to survive and live, you become a slave to them. And if they stop supporting you or become unable to support you, you truly are a new generation of slaves to the government.