Writing 101, Day Nineteen: Don’t Stop the Rocking

Today is a free writing day. Write at least four-hundred words, and once you start typing, don’t stop. No self-editing, no trash-talking, and no second guessing: just go. Bonus points if you tackle an idea you’ve been playing with but think is too silly to post about.

“Don’t stop the rocking.” The title of today’s assignment became a prompt.
“Don’t stop the rocking.” I recall a video message my pastor showed one Sunday. In it, a minster who I did not know was telling his story or at least part of his life story. He was stricken with a disease that was slowly freezing his body. I know there is a more elegant way to state that but, hey, this works for me. He shared how it takes him a long time to stand up and it does not help him to have others aid him in the process. Which reminds me of what I was told about the caterpillar’s process of becoming a butterfly. After the caterpillar creates a cocoon, it is transformed into a butterfly but has to complete the process unaided. The struggle to break out of the cocoon is what causes the blood to flow into its wings, giving it the strength to fly. A man told the story of watching the butterfly struggle for what seemed like hours to break out of the cocoon. Thinking he could help it by cutting the cocoon open, he did so but to his dismay, the butterfly’s body was swollen with the fluid that the struggle would have pushed into its wings. It never flew and eventually died. What a lesson.

Anyway, back to the story of the minister. He mentioned that to get up from his bed, he would first swing his legs ever so slowly over the side, sit for a bit, and then begin rocking. As he did so, the blood would flow into his legs and with continued rocking, he would eventually be able to stand up. But he had to do so by himself. Interesting that sometimes help, which we all need, can sometimes hinder or handicap us, instead of helping us, no matter how well intended.

The challenge is to determine when help is appropriate and when it is best to let the person struggle. It is not always easy to distinguish between the two.


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