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A Lesson From the Porcupines


When was the last time you learned a lesson from an animal, let alone a porcupine?  Well, German philosopher Schopenhauer wrote this great little story about porcupines that can teach us quite a bit about relationships. The story starts out on a cold winter’s night…

The Story

It was the coldest winter ever. Many animals died because of the cold.  The porcupines, realizing the situation, decided to group together to keep warm.  This way they covered & protected themselves, but the quills of each one wounded their closest companions.

After a while, they decided to distance themselves one from the other & they began to die, alone & frozen.

So they had to make a choice…Either accept the quills of their companions or disappear from the Earth. Wisely, they decided to go back to being together. They learned to live with the little wounds caused by the close relationship with their companions in order to receive the warmth & heat that came from the others. This way they were able to survive.

The Moral

In order for our relationships to survive, we need to accept the little imperfections of others.  No one is perfect, so it’s unreasonable of us to expect our friends and family to be perfect.  When we speak of relationships, you may hear someone say, “He is perfect for me” or “She is the perfect child.”  I would be hesitant to use the word “perfect” to explain anyone.  No one is perfect and it’s unreasonable to think someone is.  When we see someone as perfect, we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment.  It’s much better to see a person as always doing their best, rather than holding them to a standard that is impossible to maintain.

The Takeaway

As with any one person, or group of people, we need to accept the tiny imperfections in each other.  We need to see people for the good they try to do and be forgiving of the not so good.  No one is perfect, so we need to love our friends and family even when they fail to meet our expectations.  Even the porcupines learned that it’s much better to be surrounded by the warm pokes than the coldness of being alone.

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