Do you know anyone who seemingly prefers to complain about everything rather than do something about it? Is that person you? Perhaps a greater enemy to our personal growth than complacency and apathy is inertia. Most people who suffer from inertia, or the condition of being stuck, do not realize it.
Today, I would like to share the lesson of the moth with you in hopes it will awaken a sense of self-awareness that may be the beginning of the end of inertia in your life:
I certainly do not suggest risking your life for a brief moment of beauty but I believe the lesson of the moth tells us that there is self-fulfillment and even self-actualization in placing our energy into our passion, rather than in routine, ritual and "longevity."
I was talking to a moth the other evening. He was trying to break into an electric light bulb and fry himself on the wire.
'Why do fellows pull this stunt?' I asked him. 'Because it is a conventional thing for moths? Or why, if that had been an uncovered candle, instead of an electric light bulb, you would now be a small, unsightly cinder. Have you no sense?'
'Plenty of it.' he answered, 'but at times we get tired of using it. We get bored with the routine and crave beauty and excitement. Fire is beautiful and we know that if we get too close it will kill us,
But what does it matter?
It is better to be happy for a moment and be burned up with beauty than to live a long time and be bored all the while. So we wad all our life up into one little roll, and then we shoot the roll.
That's what life is for.
It is better to be a part of beauty for one instant and then cease to exist, than to exist forever and never be a part of beauty. Our attitude toward life is Come easy, go easy.
We're like human beings used to be before they became too civilized to enjoy themselves.'
And before I could argue him out of his philosophy, he went and immolated himself on a patented cigar lighter.
I do not agree with him. Myself, I would rather have half the happiness and twice the longevity. But at the same time, I wished there was something I wanted as badly as he wanted to fry himself.
I believe, for the moth, the beauty, or meaning, was actually found in the pursuit of it rather than in the end result...
The moth was not seeking death but seeking life...
Source: Bennis, Warren & Nanus Burt. Leaders: Strategies For Taking Charge. Harper: New York, 1985, 1997.