"Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do." Benjamin Spock
I have a love/hate relationship with fairy tales and fables. I love the lessons and inspiration some of them have. What I don’t love is when they give false impressions and promote falling in line, rather that following your heart. A common archetype is a young, motherless girl who suffers, but if she is pious, she is rewarded. Replace the word pious with the word silent, and you’ll have a better idea of what the real message is.
Believe it or not, I actually like some of the messages of Aesop’s fables. The lessons are universal. No act of kindness is ever wasted. Don’t underestimate yourself. The list goes on and on. One story I always appreciate and go back to is “The Scorpion and the Frog,” It is an Aesop fable, but there are also different versions from around the world. It’s not sweet and sugary, but it makes a point.
A scorpion is trying to cross a river. He looks around trying to assess the situation. He sees a frog sitting on the riverbank. He asks the frog to help him.
“How do I know you won’t sting me?” The frog says.
“If I sting you, then I will die, too.”
They go back and forth as the frog goes through the different scenarios of how the scorpion could kill him. When the scorpion refutes all of them, the frog is convinced of his own safety.
He comes to the scorpion, and he gets on his back. The frog starts to swim, careful to stay on the surface so the scorpion doesn’t drown.
Then, midstream, the frog feels a sharp pain on his back. He realizes the scorpion has stung him. As he is dying, he says to the scorpion, “Why did you do that?”
“You knew I was a scorpion,” he says.
It’s dark. I know. But I always appreciate the message of that story: The nature of a thing will always reveal itself. To take that further, if a person shows you or tells you who they are, believe them.
When it is in your nature to believe in the good, that can get tricky. You want to be positive. You don’t want to pass judgment. At the end of the day, you want to believe that everyone is good and wants to do the right thing.
When we realize everyone’s definition of what is good and what the right thing is varies, we gain a broader perspective. From there, when we accept that what’s good for them may not be good for us, we can take actions that are in our best interests. Or sometimes, like the frog, we can get so tied up in someone else’s interests, we forget our own. That’s when we get into a “yes” to someone else being a “no” for us.
When we go against our own intuition or better judgment, especially when we know the nature of a thing, that is a recipe for disaster. We’re not being unkind. We’re taking care of ourselves, and that’s always the right thing.
Don’t be the frog. Don’t be the scorpion, either.
Until next time... look behind and beyond the veil...
Sameena K. Mughal, Author, Freelance Writer