It has been awhile (14 months to be exact) that I posted these two stories during a time when I really questioned my own beliefs. I wanted to re-post them today because I need to be reminded that it is always worth the time to re-evaluate your thinking.
The Pot Roast
I love the story of the woman who always cut the end off her Christmas roast before cooking it. One day her 8-year-old daughter asked her why she cut off part of the meat and didn't include it with the rest of the roast. The mother explained that her mother had always done it that way, so that's how she learned to do it. That evening the inquisitive little girl asked her grandmother why she always cut the end off her roasts before cooking them. She said that her mother had always done it that way, so that's how she learned to cook a roast. The little girl trotted over to her great-grandmother, sitting quietly in the corner. She asked her great-grandmother if she could remember why she always cut the end off the roast, to which the elderly woman replied, "My roasting pan was so small and my oven so tiny, that the only way I could fit a roast in was to cut the end off."
The Processionary Caterpillars
The renowned French Naturalist, Jean-Henri Fabre, in an experiment with processionary caterpillars was able to entice them on to the rim of a large flowerpot. Processionary caterpillars move through the forest in a long procession feeding on pine needles. They derive their name from their habit of following a lead caterpillar, each with its eyes half closed and head fitted snugly against the rear end of the preceding caterpillar.Fabre succeeded in getting the lead caterpillar to connect up with the last one, creating a complete circle, which moved around the pot in a never ending procession. He thought that after a few circles of the pot, the caterpillars would discover their predicament or tire of their endless progression and move off in another direction. But they never varied their movements.Through force of habit, the caterpillars kept moving relentlessly around the pot at about the same pace for a period of seven days. They would have continued even longer if they had not stopped from sheer exhaustion and hunger. As part of the experiment, food had been placed close by in sight of the group, but because it was out of the path of the circle, they continued in their procession to what could have been their ultimate destruction.In their procession around the pot, they were blindly following their instincts, habits, past experience, tradition, custom and precedent—the way they always had done things. In reality, they got nowhere. As the adage states, “It is a form of insanity to do the same things over and over and then expect different results.”