The Monkey, the Banana, & the Bamboo Cage

Note from Joey: Welcome! Everyone who posts a comment in the next 48 hours for this story will receive a free copy of I Love You Unconditionally…On One Condition or The Longing: Embracing the Deepest Truth of Who You Are (ebook…you pick…enjoy!)

Once upon a time, there was a monkey, a banana and a bamboo cage. One afternoon after a long nap, the monkey was hungry and wanted something to eat. So he set off for a nearby banana plantation that he and his monkey troop would frequently raid. Walking along a dense jungle trail, the monkey suddenly eyed a banana. But this banana was in a sort of contraption that the monkey couldn’t quite name because monkeys have a very limited monkey vocabulary. Suffice to say, the banana was in a small bamboo box with long wooden slats. The box was fastened to a chain, which was tied to a nearby tree. Read on…

The banana was large and delicious-looking. A perfect afternoon snack.

The monkey looked around to make sure the coast was clear. The banana was easy pickings. It wasn’t even hanging from a tree and didn’t have to be ripped from a bunch. The monkey was so delighted he let out a quick little monkey squeech and dashed to the box.

The monkey picked up the box and gave it a little shake. He rattled the box, hoping the banana would slide right out, but the narrow wood slats prevented the large, delicious banana from exiting the box. Intently focused on getting exactly what he wanted, the monkey slipped his paw into the box and firmly gripped the banana. He tried to pull the banana out, but the banana would not budge.  He was a smart enough monkey to know that if he pulled too hard, he would squish the banana. And if there was one thing this monkey did not favor, it was the taste of squishy banana. Besides, even if he tried to pull a squishy banana out of the box, he still couldn’t get it out because his paw was in a fist and a fist holding a squishy banana could not fit through the narrow wooden slats.

This conundrum made the monkey angry, though the monkey didn’t quite know what a conundrum was. All the monkey knew was that he wanted the banana and this box was keeping him from his delicious afternoon snack. Never mind that a whole plantation of box-free bananas was just down the jungle trail, the monkey was now fixed and determined to have this banana. So, not only did the monkey become angry, he also became anxious. What if I can’t get my banana?  The more the monkey looked at the banana, the more he became fearful. What if this is the last banana I find today? The monkey then went through a complex panoply of emotions, namely jealousy, resentment and covetousness. I found this banana and no other monkey shall have it! Shaking the box harder and harder, the monkey began to worry what the rest of the monkeys might think of him. What if the troop comes along and sees me on the verge of failure? Now, overwhelmed with pride and a sense of urgency, the monkey tried to take greater control by redoubling his efforts to get the banana out of the box. I don’t need anyone’s help…I can do this all on my own! But soon, after many fruitless attempts to finagle the banana out of the box, the  monkey became overwhelmed with disappointment, depression and despondency. I’ll never get what I want.

If the monkey was a gorilla, we all know the gorilla would have just swung the chain to smash the box against the tree and be done with it. For it’s common knowledge that a gorilla doesn’t care about a squishy banana. But since a gorilla is not the primary primate in this story, let’s get back to monkey business.

So focused now on his banana and caught up in all the emotion of trying to get what he thought he really needed, the monkey failed to see what was really going on around him. Suddenly, the owner of the nearby banana plantation leaped from the bushes, grabbed the monkey and promptly plopped him into a burlap sack.

Imprisoned now far greater than before, the monkey no longer considered the banana a perfect afternoon snack.

And that, my friends, is the story of The Monkey, the Banana, and the Bamboo Cage.

©Joey O’Connor

Questions: What banana is keeping you a prisoner? What is the one thing you think you must have? What are you afraid to let go of and why?

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  • Teri Massick

    LOVE it Joey! Thanks for sharing this. GREAT analogy – I will have to share myself!  We’ve all been silly monkeys at one time or another…very relative to us human monkeys! 🙂

    • Joey O’Connor

       Thanks Teri…you could say this story is autobiographical. I have so many bananas, I don’t know what to do with them all. By God’s grace, letting go of each one…one at a time…

  • Diane

    Joey, I do like the story!  What an analogy of the human soul!  Thanks for sharing! 

    • Joey O’Connor

       That’s right Diane…we are made to be free and our soul is most free when we let go of everything we’re hanging onto…hm…I can only speak for myself though…

      Thanks for your feedback!

    • Joey O’Connor

       Hi Diane, send me your email and I will send you a copy of either book! You posted and you get a free copy!

  • Erin_davern

    Oh, my list is long too!  Ai yi yi!  One biggie for me is aging….I’ve got to let go of longing for the durable body of my youth that could take a lot more wear and tear!  I need to be grateful and content that I’ve got arms/legs and can move!

    • Joey O’Connor

       I hear you Erin…and I am two years away from the BIG 5-0!

      But ya know, this past year I made it my goal to train for my first triathlon, which I completed three weeks ago. It was such a great experience and I am learning so much about what I can and can’t do! Despite all the aches and pains, I keep telling my body, “Listen, I’m showing up for training tomorrow (or my race). If you want to come along fine, but I’m going to be there!”

      Several of my bananas are mental blocks of what I think I can or cannot do. I agree with you…I am grateful to have arms and legs that still work!

      • Erin_davern

        That’s fantastic!  Way to go!  It’s funny you should bring up the mental roadblocks. I’ve really started working hard on that over the last week after reading more about the mind/body connection and I’m learning that I need to start doing more of what you’re doing…the positive re-enforcement.  After battling some physical setbacks, I started seeing myself as fragile and I think my body responded. Now it’s changing the mental tapes! 

        • Joey O’Connor

          Absolutely Erin, after years of dealing with chronic pain, my body settled into a state of complacency and figured I just wasn’t going to push it very far again. But what I’m leaning in the triathlon training, is that there is good pain and bad pain. We don’t want injuries or make a bad situation worse, but mentally, our minds and therefore, our bodies will take the paths of least resistance.

          I just met a 70 year old woman who was the number 1 finisher in last year’s Ironman Ford World Championship in Kona, HI who spent years battling chronic back pain BEFORE she began raining for the Ironman…that’s a 2.5 mile ocean swim, 115 miles on the bike, and a full marathon at 70 years old. I saw her cross the finish line 2 minutes before the 17 hour cutoff.

          We go can far greater than we think we can…

          • Erin_davern

            That makes so much sense!  That is an amazing story about the 70 year old woman….I need to write this down and post it on my fridge. What an inspiration! 

            I was just started reading a book written by Dr. Scott Brady who spent years in chronic pain then supposedly defeated it in a few weeks of using Dr. Sarno’s treatment plan and now he has his own treatment centers. You probably are well aware of them. 

            He said after providing medical care in Africa for 6 weeks, he noticed that the people there would carry huge loads on their backs while at the same time carrying a child in one arm and a water jug in the other and they never complained of chronic pain. Here we learn to baby our backs after being injured and refrain from not doing anything too taxing for fear of hurting ourselves again. 

            As you say, he thinks our bodies our much stronger than we give them credit for and that the Africans release their emotions whereas us Americans learn to stuff  and deny them and he thinks those emotions often cause chronic pain.

          • Joey O’Connor

            Absolutely…I’ve read Dr. Sarno’s book and it’s great…a lot of truth to it. If anyone reading this thread has struggled with chronic pain and you cannot nail down the exact cause, Dr. John Sarno has a lot to say about the mind/body connection. Nothing weird or New-Agey…just a lot of practical common sense about how stress gets manifested in chronic pain.

            Here’s the link to the book…thanks for the Africa insights Erin…so true!

            The Mindbody Prescription: Healing the Body, Healing the Pain

  • Sandra Furuvald

    Hi Joey,

    I have heard that story in a different way about the monkey and the banana, and it’s so true.  We just talked about it at bible study last night.  What do we hold on to instead of having His presence in our life.  He wants us to have a new wine skin to pour into.  He will not patch up the old one.

    • Joey O’Connor

       Thanks Sandra…we do have to learn again and again that God is enough…He is always in the process of making all things new.  Thanks for sharing!

  • Gregg Huestis

    Joey…Love it! The Site. Your vid! AWESOME!!!

    • Joey O’Connor

       Hi Greg, which book would you like a copy of? The Longing or my marriage book? I think you already have one of them…let me know and I’ll send you the other!

  • Gregg Huestis

    I would love to get together one of these days when I am in CA.  When my wife & I are planning to come to So. Cal, I will get in touch with you and perhaps we can meet up? Blessings, Gregg

    • Joey O’Connor

       Hey Gregg…that sounds great. Let me know when you’re coming to town. Thanks for your kind words and encouragement!

  • Jerivertree1024

    Joey…Cannot thank you enough for this! ;~{)}   This is so extremely timely for me. I am stuck in the pursuit of a calling/deep heart desire & have just become so swamped by the “plantation owner” I believe. I have felt so lost, zapped of life & emotional energy to invest in my pursuit any longer. It was if some switch had been turned off…what used to flow naturally like a river could not even be forced to trickle like a little stream. I want to spend some time in this & identify what I need to let go of. So wish that some way some how I could come and visit with you and your work personally…it means so much to my heart and my journey!

    • Joey O’Connor

       Hi there…I’m so glad you were encouraged by the story! I know I have read stories “at just the right time” and how much they meant to me. I will be praying that God will reveal exactly what you need to let go of, that He will fill it with all of Him and He will show you the next steps in the days ahead.

      For perseverance and perspective, you may want to read some of my posts about my friend, Scott Rigsby here on Art, Life & Faith…you can go farther than you think you can. With God’s strength, you can do far more…

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