What’s So Cool About A Talking Frog?
Several years ago, I heard the story of an engineer who was riding his bike to work one day when he happened to see a frog on the side of the road. The engineer stopped, got off his bike and approached the frog. As he bent down to observe the frog, the frog suddenly spoke to him in a woman’s voice and said, “If you kiss me I will turn into a beautiful princess.” The engineer examined the frog more closely without saying a word.
Puzzled by the fact that the engineer didn’t immediately offer a kiss, the frog again repeated, “If you kiss me I will turn into a beautiful princess.” Again, no kiss from the engineer. Instead, the engineer picked up the frog and gently placed it in his basket on the back of his bicycle. Before shutting the basket, the frog exclaimed, “I don’t get it. I told you that if you kissed me I would turn into a beautiful princess.” To this, the engineer responded, “Yeah, but a talking frog is really cool!”
Despite our temptations and natural desires, we can’t judge whether the engineer would have been better off with a beautiful princess or a talking frog. One could argue that the princess would have been more practical and even impressed others, but perhaps the talking frog would actually bring the engineer more joy and be a better fit with what is important in his or her life.
I had my own real life experience that was similar to this story. I was attending a meeting on a university campus with an incredibly accomplished professor. As we were leaving the meeting and walking across the campus, the professor was anxious about the fact that one of her graduate students had been waiting two hours for her back at the lab. Not a minute after expressing this concern and as we were walking on the sidewalk next to a stream, the professor saw a frog.
She stopped in her tracks and observed the frog for a few minutes, having completely forgotten that she is still late for a meeting. At the time, I couldn’t believe that she would make this choice. I was judging the professor’s choice and placing no value on what was bringing her joy — even if it meant that her student would have to wait a few more minutes.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Upon reflection, and while thinking of the talking frog, I am reminded that part of the beauty of the world is that we all have the gift and ability to personally and uniquely appreciate every situation and experience. This can be taking the opportunity to smell the fragrant scent of a flower, watch a beautiful sunset or spend time with a friend or loved one. It can also be taking the time to ask a colleague how they are (and taking time to listen to the answer!), complimenting someone on a job well done or just looking up and smiling while walking past a colleague in the hall.
May we all take the time to appreciate what the world has to offer as we continue our all-too-brief journey through life.
Originally published at www.marckirshbaum.com on October 26, 2015.