Strength and Change

I was always told the best path to follow is the path of least resistance. I can say this is true. I can say that yes, the easiest path to follow is the oath of least resistance but then I relate to a story written by a literary idol of mine, Robert Fulghum.
In his book, “All I Need to Know I learned in Kindergarten,”   Fulghum writes about a cicada, —you know what they are. They are one of those big-eyed, creepy-crawly bugs that chatter from the trees in summertime. The author writes about the bug and how it creeps from the ground before shedding its skin. It’s an ugly looking thing. It’s brown, crawly, crawly, and then it finds someplace to enter into a new stage and sheds its brown paper bag colored skin.

Fulghum writes about watching the metamorphosis take place. He explains how he watches this bug try to crack through the dead skin so it can expose its wings, spread them out, and fly away.
In watching, Fulghum writes about the painfully slow process and the effort it takes for the bug to escape its previous self. Then Fulghum explains about how he helped. And he did help the little bugger escape. But while sitting in the sunlight on Fulghum’s porch, the cicada allowed the sunlight to dry its new wings. It probably buzzed a little bit and chattered like they do. But the bug never took flight and shortly after its moment in the sun, new wings dried, and in the first stages of its next chapter, a bird came along and took the cicada for lunch.

Next, Fulghum writes about this. He explains his frustration, but then he learns that the struggle is necessary. In the case of the cicada, escaping its shell before exposing its new wings is essential for the bug to build enough muscle so that when its wings are dry, the bug will have enough strength to fly away.

I see this lesson as valuable. I see this as a reminder that since struggle is often unfortunate; nevertheless, struggle is still a true, real, and sometimes struggle is necessary part of life. Sometimes, our struggle is what makes us stronger. In most cases, so long as we are open to this and paying attention, at minimum, our struggles are enough to teach us a lesson.

I was once told to always look for the path of least resistance. And I’m sure this is a good way to go. One thing is for sure; the path of least resistance is certainly the easiest.
I am wondering how many times I’ve heard people say, “You won’t be able do it.” I’m wondering how many times I’ve slipped or fallen in my life and I’m wondering how many times I’ve dusted myself off and stood back up again.

I’m wondering what life is like if all I’ve ever done is taken the path of least resistance. I’m wondering what life would be like if it was left without challenge or without the effort it takes to build my muscles.

This morning, I watched an Olympic athlete prepare to compete. I wonder if this athlete took the path of least resistance. My guess here is no.

I think about an old neighborhood friend of mine who fought for the title and became the welterweight champion of the world. I wonder if he took the path of least resistance. I guess no again. He came in as the underdog and fought perhaps one of the greatest fighters of all times. I’m sure his route was not the path of least resistance. I’m sure he suffered his way through. I know he bled and he hurt, but in all and in his words, “Even if I get knocked out, at least I got in there.”

There are times when I sit in front of my list of goals and there are days when it seems like the odds are stacked against me. There are moments when I feel as if I’m on the losing end of a tough fight. And sometimes, I have to perform in front of stone-faced people, resistant to me or what I do, and this above any is far from the path of least resistance.

There are times when the morning is a rough moment. The alarm goes off and I think to myself, “It’s Monday.”
My mind is distracted by the paperwork I never finished. My vision is focused on all else but where it’s supposed to be. And I think about Mr. Fulghum. I think about his story and what it meant to me. I think about where I was the first time I read this. I was in a hospital in the I.C.U. at a place called Hempstead General. I was sitting bedside with The Old Man just a few days before he died.

All I Need to Know I Already Learned in Kindergarten was the book I found at my Old Man’s bedside before his heart took a turn for the worse. I figured since The Old Man was reading it, I might as well give it a shot. Coincidentally, I can say this book is linked to a pivotal change in my life.

This was also the first book I ever read, willingly, from cover to cover. And it was fitting for me, which is why I always make sure I have a copy of it laying around someplace because; yes, life has its ups and downs. Life has its struggles, but in all, I know that maybe I’ve not traveled along the path of least resistance, but that’s okay.  And it’s okay because when the day comes for me to spread my wings in the sun, I want to be sure that I have the strength to fly away instead of lay on the ground like bird food and feel like someone else’s prey.

There is another saying that goes, “Nothing worthwhile is ever easy.”
The things I see as worthwhile are far away from the path of least resistance.
Know what I say about that?

I say so be it . . .

It’s time to go get strong


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