The Story of Change and the Boiled Frog

The Story of Change and the Boiled Frog

I love fables because they tell a story with some ultimate meaning. Take the one about the boiling frog. Legend has it the origins of this fascinating story, is as a result of a 19th century science experiment.  As the story goes, researchers found that when they put a frog in a pan of boiling water, the frog quickly jumped out.  On the other hand, when they put a frog in cold water and put the water to boil over time, the frog just boiled to death. 

The hypothesis is that the change in temperature is so gradual, the frog doesn’t realize it’s boiling to death. This story is a good metaphor for understanding why change is a vital and necessary part of growth.

Haven’t all of us remained in situations that weren’t good for us? Gradually they were damaging our body or mind or soul, and yet we couldn’t quite make that leap? It might have been fear, or apathy, or rationalization that kept us in that unhealthy situation… until finally we were forced to jump or “die” (or the other person jumped first, leaving us feeling like the boiled frog that was stupidly left behind).

Today this tale points to our inability to react to gradual changes that ultimately may be harmful to us.  For me, change has always been hard and I have been the frog in the pan more than once. The boiling water that slowly creeps up on me — threatening to harm my spirit — is not something experienced in the outside world, it’s more about my refusing to accept uncontrollable changes in my life. It’s my desire to hold on to what I have and keep it the way it is… if only this were possible.

One of the hardest lessons I need to learn is that life doesn’t always turn out the way I want. People die, marriages end in divorce, children leave, people let us down and our dreams don’t always come true. As someone with 56 years’ experience I’ve realised that loss is a part of life. Yet, through it all I have learnt to surrender and allow situations to naturally unfold. I look back and see the lesson I needed to learn. It could not have happened any other way.

The message from all of this, at least for me, is to stop resisting change and to accept the realities of life, even when it’s the last thing I wanted to happen. In a nutshell, the leap we need to make in the midst of change, is a leap of faith . . . faith in the future, faith in new possibilities and people will be waiting for us once we finally let go of what we had.

So as we begin this new year, I would like to honour every person facing any significant life change. It takes courage and strength to keep the faith when the unexpected happens.

A frog knows what it must do to survive and so do you.

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