One of my kids’ favorite book characters is Chico Bon Bon from the “Monkey with A Tool Belt” series by Chris Monroe. Do you know these great stories?
If you don’t know Chico Bon Bon, you should definitely check out the Monkey With a Tool Belt books.
Allow me to summarize.
Chico Bon Bon is a monkey with a tool belt. (You could have guessed that from the title, right?)
He has absolutely all of the tools anyone could need for anything. All of the things. As you can see.
In one story, Chico gets captured by an organ grinder and taken to the circus. The story is about how he uses his tools to escape.
Every time we read this book – and I’ve read it so many times I could probably recite it from memory for you – I think about the classic Indian allegory about catching monkeys. It goes like this…
Do you want to catch a monkey? Let me tell you how.
Build a small box of wooden slats to hold a banana. Place a banana in the box in the jungle and go out of sight to wait.
Soon enough, a monkey will arrive. He will be able to put his hand between the slats to pick up the banana but he will not be able to get the banana out through the slat.
The monkey will become OBSESSED with getting this banana out. He will try every trick he knows. He will pull and yank. He will twist and bang. He will be so very focused on getting this banana out that you will be about to leave your hiding place and walk right up to him.
He might even notice that you are approaching but he will not let go of the banana. He will be so deeply attached to the banana, unwilling to release it, that you will be able to pluck him right up.
I’m not sure if this is true or not but the point of the story is pretty clear.
Freedom for that monkey is so close. When he hears the human approach, the logical thing to do would be to let go of the banana, pull his little hand out and run. But he doesn’t.
How many times have you been holding onto something so tightly, trying to solve some problem, to the point that it captures you?
I have. Dozens of times.
The story is meant to be a lesson in practicing aparigraha or non-attachment or sometimes non-possessiveness. I hear this message in a infomercial sales pitch voice:
Are you suffering because you are holding on to something too tightly or too long? Let it go and you are free!
Sounds so easy, right? And yet.
Here’s where I think about good ole’ Chico Bon Bon.
I think we need some tools to help us figure out let go of the bananas.
The solution to the grasping too tightly problem is probably somewhere between Chico Bon Bon’s overly stocked tool belt and just simply letting go.
We probably don’t need a zoozle and a snoozer like Chico’s. Whatever the heck those are!
And we definitely don’t need 2,100 yoga asanas either.
Fellow restorative yoga advocate and teacher Jillian Pransky recently wrote a great blog post about the difference between letting go and letting things be. This distinction is at the heart of the lesson of aparigraha. Check it out.
And perfectly on topic, in this short video Chico Bon Bon creator Chris Monroe talks about how Chico Bon Bon is about to get his own Netflix show.
I love how enthusiastic she is and also totally not surprised by it. Consider her attitude as she speaks about how it happened. It’s a great example of non-attachment.