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A Parable: The Stubborn Beetle and the Acorn

By Edited Oct 20, 2016 1 1

It seems appropriate that my last article was about living life in the present which is also the all important first step and an absolutely necessary base to living life to the fullest. This article might be stranger, since it's about one specific incident from Tuesday and illustrates perfectly keeping in the moment to get something out of life that you might have otherwise missed. I've been on a quest to lose weight, and since my self control with eating is less than complete (I like food way too much), I've gone the route of backpacking four hours a day on the local trails and enjoying nature during the time. I take a 3.5 mile hike up to the top of "heart attack hill" and then hike back, with the last ½ mile also uphill. That's a lot of cardio, but I've always loved nature and hiking, and this is the easiest way for me: burning a couple thousand calories while enjoying nature.  That's a win-win situation and seems to be a good way of followin my own advice to get out there, meet people, and be active.

So about three quarters of the way up heart attack hill there's a natural resting place. I sat down on a rock ledge, and caught sight of a decent sized beetle trying to push an acorn up the rock ledge. Think the equivalent of a six foot tall man trying to push a boulder up a 600 foot rock face that was almost 90 degrees in most places.

I just sat, tried not to have a heart attack, enjoyed the few clouds nature was offering me from the hot Texas sun, and drank water and watched the little guy go to task. He starting by pushing head first, but the acorn kept rolling off to the side. So he turned around and gripped it with his back legs and tried pushing it up layer after layer of revealed rock butt first.

The acorn would roll down, then he'd try again. Then he would take a different route. Then a third. Then a fourth. He kept falling, but I was amazed how smart the beetle seemed, since it always seemed to realize just when one path wouldn't work and managed to adjust accordingly, never making the mistake of trying the same hopeless path again. Every time the beetle climbed higher and higher. There was a point where he was on a ledge, and the rock underneath crumbled away and fell, but not before he made it safely onto the ledge and closer to the very top than ever before. After three minutes of hard work he was almost there, and then tumbled all the way back down, acorn dragging him all the way down because he refused to let go.

I felt terrible for the little guy, the beetle who was putting in so much effort into a task that would be so easy for me, but so hard, maybe even life and death, for him. But there was no hesitation on his part. He flipped back over and traced the exact same route for the first time in the twenty minutes I watched him, because that had gotten him so close before.

I left to make the end of my hike: the very top of heart attack hill. I didn't see the beetle make it, but I have absolutely no doubt that he did. It's hard to explain to those who have never learned to slow down enough to enjoy the small joys of nature and life, but it really was an amazing moment, and that made my day as something that was truly stunning, and that was even before considering the lessons I could take from that stubborn little beetle.

So What Can That Stubborn Beetle Teach Us?

The odd thing was while sitting there watching the stubborn beetle keep moving the acorn is that I felt like I was being taught a lesson by the world around me. Two areas I'm involved in: Internet marketing and freelance writing. The beetle is a perfect parable for both. What can we learn from his struggles?

  1. If something doesn't work once, try something else. Trying the same failed strategy over and over is called stupidity, insanity, or politics - and look at where all three of those have gotten this country.
  2. What works today might not work tomorrow. Remember when the beetle used a loose rock to successfully get to the ledge, but then the rock fell? That really hit me as how both Internet marketing and online freelance writing work. What works today might be old news by tomorrow, so adapt accordingly.
  3. PERSISTENCE. Quitters don't make it in either field, and the same could be said about dieting, working out, or life in general. Nothing truly worth doing in life is easy. Unwavering persistence will get you past the 98% who simply give up at some point.
  4. New strategies. This is tied to #1, but what got me about the beetle was I could watch him change strategies and adjust accordingly. For all the people pissed off because I'm talking about a bug: have you ever done the same thing twice hoping the second time it would work? We all have. Which means the beetle has more common sense than we do.

Whether writing or marketing, watching that beetle climb, struggle, adjust, and persevere is a brilliant parable/allegory/metaphor for exactly what we should be striving for. Leave it to a beautiful moment of learning to live in the moment to learn what the world has to show you about succeeding and living life to the fullest.

Even more amazing to me is that really there was a bug and an acorn, and had I not been too tired to do anything else, I would have missed the amazing intelligence he actually showed in getting the acron up the rock and taking multiple times to get there.  Going the normal speed of life would have caused me to completely miss watching something that actually was pretty darn amazing.



Jun 30, 2011 8:28pm
Yes, this makes me think of haiku's - zen nish...nice writing. Thumbs up.
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