“Once you learn to fly, you will never consent to creep,” said Wilb, the wise little butterfly. He was speaking to his students, the caterpillars.
The caterpillars were usually reluctant to undergo the mandatory Samadhi that they had to undergo before graduating into butterflies. Samadhi means sitting inside a silk shield for days and nights like an Egyptian mummy coated with god-knows-what-all things. And contemplate for ages. The caterpillars hated the veritable mummification as much as the contemplation. They would rather play cricket on their mobile phones or send SMSes to their boyfriends or girlfriends. SMSes like I m pining 4 u now that I m feeding on pine needles.
There were also teachers like Cob, the clever old butterfly, who advised the caterpillars not to worry much about the graduation process. “What is important is that you be a good creature, whether you are a butterfly or a caterpillar. Not every caterpillar need become a butterfly. Not every butterfly is a good creature. Being a good caterpillar is infinitely more important than being a bad butterfly….”
Cob is a legendary figure in the Republic of Caterpillars. Flying on the wings of the legends, which according to some legends are his own creations which he propagated with the help of a group of minions who constantly wait upon him, Cob became a kind of chieftain in the Republic of Caterpillars. One such legend has it that Cob was a great warrior who led many battles on behalf of caterpillars. There is also an apocryphal legend, however, that Cob could never fly though he had wings because his wings had not developed fully. According to this legend, which allegedly is fabricated by some jealous creatures inside or outside the Republic, Cob had instructed one of his most trusted minions to assist him in coming out of the mandatory Samadhi before its natural period. Little did Cob or his minion know that the mandatory period of contemplation was one of the essential conditions for the proper development of the wings. The minion obeyed the master’s order. Consequently, the master came out of his Samadhi before the others of his batch and thus became the leader of the batch. However, his wings could not carry him to heights. So he flew on the wings of legends.
“Once you have conquered certain heights, you won’t need legends,” Wilb was instructing the caterpillars. “All you need are your wings. However, you are free to choose your destiny. You are free to creep on the leaves as much as you are free to soar in the sky. Know this, however. The mark of your ignorance is the intensity of your attachment to the leaves. Think: what the caterpillar calls the end of the world is just the beginning for the butterfly.”
Acknowledgements: I am indebted to two persons for the inspiration behind this fable. (1) Helen Keller whose saying, “One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar,” set me off on the adventure of pursuing this fable. (2) Richard Bach’s words which I cannot recall verbatim but mean that once we have conquered certain heights we cannot descend but we spread our wings and fly haunt me constantly. Bach has influenced this fable in more ways than just that one sentence. The last sentence in the fable, for instance, is an adaptation of one of Bach’s maxims.