A Story of Struggle

“Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who tells you differently is selling something.” ~ William Goldman

I like stories of struggle. Not because I enjoy struggling or seeing other people struggle, but because there is a strength of character and wisdom earned from struggle that could never be honed by anything else. Today, I’m sharing with you one of my favorite stories about struggle, one I always call to mind when things get tough and I need to be reminded that there is purpose even in difficulty.

This story is about a man and an emperor moth. There are many variations and attributions of this story, but it seems to be mainly attributed to British naturalist and biologist Alfred Russel WallaceI paraphrased a version of it below:

The story has it that Wallace once found a cocoon of an emperor moth. He saw that there was a narrow opening in the cocoon, through which the moth was attempting to emerge. So he sat for several hours watching it, eagerly anticipating the moment the moth would finally escape its cocoon, spread its majestic wings, and fly free.

After a long while, though, the moth still hadn’t escaped its cocoon. In fact, it appeared as though it was stuck; it had stopped making any progress on its way out. Wanting to help the moth out, Wallace took a blade and slit the rest of the cocoon open.

The moth emerged easily, but its body was swollen and its wings wrinkled. Wallace continued to wait hopefully, expecting the moth’s body to contract in time and its wings to expand once it recovered from the ordeal. But those never happened. The moth was reduced to creeping about on its swollen belly, its wings never developing any more than the shriveled sheets that they were. It soon died, never having tasted the glory of flight and the life it was meant to live.

Wallace realized that the moth’s struggle to ease out of that narrow opening in its cocoon turned out to be a necessary process for growth. It was nature’s way of forcing the fluid from the moth’s body into its wings, so that its wings would develop the size and strength it needed for flight. Because the moth was prematurely freed from its struggle through the small opening, there was no force to squeeze the fluid into those wings. The moth may have thus gotten out of its cocoon easily, but the price was spending the rest of its short life crawling on its belly and never realizing its full potential.

The struggle was painful to watch, and probably even more painful to experience, but it was nonetheless necessary if true freedom and flight were to be possible.

What are your thoughts about this story? Have you ever tried “cutting the cocoons” of others, only to see later on that what you’ve done—though well-meaning—has crippled them from true growth? Or have you yourself ever cut your own cocoon, or asked someone to do it for you, only to turn out with crippled wings and unable to take flight?

· · • ♣ • · ·

That’s just some food for thought for us all this Sunday. Also, taking this moment to let y’all know I’ll be on a blogging break for the rest of this month, and the next. Be back this July. Toodles! 🙂

About the Author •


75 thoughts on “A Story of Struggle

  1. I really enjoyed reading this this morning. I’ve just come to the end of a university course and that was a huge struggle! I’ve got time on my hands now to write a book, but I also have time for reflection on that struggle and I’ve realised that I’ve gotten an awful lot out of it. Thanks for this. It made me smile:)

    Liked by 2 people

  2. It immediately causes me to think of my 5-year-old son… he fairly often protests: don’t help me – I do it alone. He has so much ‘solo’ spirit when it comes to learning new manual things, much more than I think I had, and it constantly forces me to rethink my daddy methodology. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Pingback: RULE #7: Never give up; you will find beauty in the end of your struggles! - Widger's Wonderings

  4. So beautiful story filled with wisdom! Indeed, every struggle carries a meaning and has a purpose of making us better version of ourselves if we learn to get through it, rather than get over it.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. What an eye opening and compelling story. Empowering.
    Btw… I mentioned your blog in a recent post Bloggers Support Bloggers Award because I wanted others to know how supportive you are. I mentioned it in a section that is not part of the nomination because I know you are award and tag free. May God bless you for your heart for others.
    Here is a link to the post.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is one of my favorite article/story. Such a powerful and easy to understand story to deliver a strong message 🙂 Haven’t see your new blog post in awhile, hope things are going well with you Carla 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Having lived a fair number of years and a number of crisis i would never go back and redo it save myself from my misery. It is because of getting through the crisis that I am who I am today and would not change a thing.


  8. I don’t think I have ever asked anyone to cut a cocoon for me, but I had had realizations a few times that I needed to back up and not do it for others. Sometimes you have to stand down and let others learn how to fight for themselves or else they will never learn their own true strength. It is actually one of the harder lessons to learn.

    Also, I know you’re on break, but tag you’re it, Rory’s 3-2-1 Quote Me game, here is a link to my page which explains it if you are interested: pmaf.blog/2018/07/19/76-3-2-1-quote-me-2/


  9. Thank you, a beautiful story and it is for each to realise the importance of each journey… to bring ‘thyself’ to the realisation of our individual magnificence and power. To interfere with other’s life, is to make them powerless❤️ Much love, Barbara x


  10. Hmm this is so fascinating! I really enjoyed it!
    Our daughter almost died soon after birth in a freak circumstance. Only God could have brought her through almost unscathed. I just reblogged her story. At BloomsandBeautifuls.wordpress.com
It is a daily struggle for me to push fear out of the way and Trust in Gods plan.


  11. I really enjoyed this and can totally relate! You’re an amazing blogger. I see you are interested in doing more reading. I’d like to introduce myself. My pen name is Perceptual Plazz. I am having a book called Perseverance is My Power published next month. I have almost died three times and believe that God has kept me here for a reason. I just thought you may be interested in receiving a copy for FREE. If you’re interested, visit my blog perceptionofplazz.com, click on Perseverance is My Power under the books tab for details and the book trailer. ❤


  12. Great post, My Dear!! Loved the truth and the lesson and wisdom here!!! So along the same lines of “letting things take there natural course” I have mixed emotons. Perhaps, you would be kind enough to help take the regret I have for “letting things take there natural course away or ease it?? My daughter had a kitten that lived in the back yard. While mowing the lawn along the fence with a neighbor that had a doberman I found her kitten, dead. My neighbor saw me and came over and told me that the kitten had gotten into his yard and the dog got the kitten and before he could save her, it was fatally injured and the neighbor dropped it over the fence. Upon, picking my daughter up from school, she was 8, I had the dilemma of how to break this terrible news to her. Sadly, I followed the “letting nature takes it’s course” and let her find the kitten on her own. she wen into the backyard and called, Little Rosie but she didn’t come and so she came in worried and i told her to go check all around the backyard!! Well, it didn’t take very long for me to hear horrible screaming and crying!! Melody found Little Rosie!! This ripped my heart out and I realized too late that sometimes “letting someone learn the hard lessons of life on their own is not the right choice for them or you!! I cry every time think about my daughter having to find Rosie without having been comforted and held by her Dad!! So, Please share any wise words to help this torture Dad?? Please! Thanks so much

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s totally understandable that you struggle with regret and guilt feelings from witnessing your daughter face such experience. Maybe you struggled more with accepting it than your daughter did in its aftermath. Even though you weren’t able to comfort her right in that moment of seeing her dead cat, I could imagine you talked with her after that about what happened? Loss can be made more bearable by having people around who are available to talk or just be present as one goes through the grieving process.

      Liked by 1 person

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