LESSONS & FABLES
JoAnna Bennett, O’Brien Communications Group
13 June 2019
The definition of a fable is, “a short story, typically with animals as characters, conveying a moral.” I’ve written fables in the past; although, as the typical rule breaker I am, I used humans to convey my marketing moral. But if we want to get philosophical and specific, humans are mammals; and mammals are animals. We do have a brain like no other species, which is both inquisitive and hungry for knowledge. But that doesn’t take us out of the category of animal.
Like most short stories, fables are figments of the human imagination. Writers sit down and create messages that mean something significant to them. They try to navigate their lives and perspectives to share them with broader audiences, hoping to inspire their readers, to help ease the heavy loads their readers may be carrying, or even to lighten their own loads. It’s amazing the power writing has on our brains, even though it usually seems as if our brains have power over our writing.
The Boiling Frog
Have you had a job that you loathed but were in such a daily habit of reporting for duty you couldn’t see any other options? If you haven’t, I have. It’s such a dreadful position to be in and may even seem unresolvable; although, in hindsight, there was always a clear answer.
Have you ever been laid off and thought, “Thank God. That was exactly the sign I needed from the universe!” I have. And even though the feeling of relief was instantaneous, why did I wait when the power of leaving was always in my firm control?
There is a fable known as the boiling frog. To summarize, if you put a frog in boiling water, he will jump out — or be killed — immediately. If you put a frog in cold water and slowly raise the temperature, he’ll be cooked to death, unable to notice the gradual change in heat. The validity of this fable has been debunked by some and agreed with by others. But the factual validity of the fable isn’t the point. It’s a story. It’s meant to share a lesson and convey a moral that someone who learned the hard way wanted to pass on.
When it comes to the boiling frog, don’t get caught up in the truth of the story. Fables aren’t meant to be truth. Learn the lesson. Don’t sit back and wait for the universe to give you a strong sign. If you sense rising temperatures and think your safety is at risk (even the safety of your sanity), then jump!
You’re the master of your destiny. You’re the only person who controls your thoughts and your circumstances. As Clarissa Pinkola masterfully puts it, “Sometimes there are no words to help one’s courage. Sometimes you just have to jump.”
Courage is what you find when you realize you had the strength to jump.