Once there was a little creature resting on the branch of a mighty Oak that was Father of the forest. The little creature was sitting there sighing, and from time to time crying a little bit - its tiny body almost buckling under some unseen weight. Finally the great old Oak could listen no longer. In a voice belonging to a giant, but that was also as gentle as a breeze, the mighty Oak spoke out:
"Little creature, what is wrong with you?"
The little creature was surprised to feel such concern coming from anyone, let alone the tree in which it was perched. But sensing the overwhelming kindness that came along with the question, it answered as best it knew to do. The words came fairly spilling out its mouth, as if a pent-up stream of water waiting had been waiting to be released.
"Don't you see, that's just it... I mean... I'm not sure. Well, that's not entirely true."
"Whoa, slow down there little one," the Oak spoke in measured tones attempting to quiet the creature. "No need to be in a hurry telling me what you will. I've been standing here for centuries, so I'm not going anywhere. Can you be a little more specific about what' you're suffering over and maybe then we can get to the why?' part of it?"
Somewhat becalmed by these words, the creature started over. "Well, no matter how I look at it, nothing makes sense. I mean... I was sure it would be different than this."
The Oak considered this comment for a moment and asked the only question it could at that point: "What exactly was it that you thought would be so different?"
The little creature came out of its own thoughts for a moment as it realized the tree couldn't see what was so obvious to it.
"Why... being a butterfly, of course. When I used to think about becoming a butterfly, I thought to myself my problems would be left behind me - beneath me, if you will... but everything still irritates me. And," the little creature lowered its voice somewhat so as to be sure no one else would hear its next comment,
"I'm afraid a lot of the time. I figured that after I had become a butterfly, I just wouldn't have the fears that I used to have, but I still do! And that's not all... the past - it bothers me! I was sure that as a butterfly my former life wouldn't be a problem for me anymore."
The tall Oak tree looked at the little creature and knew instantly what was wrong.
"Yes, I see; what you've said makes a lot of sense now. But, let me ask you a couple more questions. We both need to get to the bottom of this problem if we're going to solve this mystery for you." And the little creature said, "Oh, thanks so much!"
The Oak continued, "Do you find yourself getting tripped up quite often?"
The little creature thought for a minute and said, "You know what? I do get tripped up. Yes! I trip quite often as a matter of fact!"
"And how about this?" the tree followed up. "Do you spend a lot of time chewing over things?"
"Yes. I spend a lot of time chewing over things."
"And are there times when it takes you a long time to get out of your own way?"
The little creature was amazed at the accuracy of the tree's questions. "You've tagged it for me! All these things you said about me are true."
"Well," the great Oak spoke again. "I think I've figured out the mystery here. Are you sure you want to know the answer?"
"Of course I do," said the creature, somewhat surprised at the question. "Please go ahead."
"All right then," said the tree, carefully measuring out the medicine it knew would be bitter to the little creature clinging to its branch. "Here's the reason for your continuing confusion about why life isn't to your liking:
You aren't a butterfly yet; you're still a caterpillar."