By Whitney McKendree Moore
Monkey See – Monkey Do
Way back in the 1960s, some Japanese scientists observed an interesting phenomenon in the Macaque monkeys on the island of Koshima. These particular monkeys lived on sweet potatoes, which they happily ate, though the potatoes were all covered with dirt.
One day, a monkey started washing the sweet potato before eating it, and gradually, one after another, other monkeys started washing their potatoes as well.
Each day, more monkeys adopted the new behavior, until one day in 1962, when the behavior suddenly became universal.
All the monkeys (that is to say 100% of the Macaque monkeys on Koshima Island) were now washing their potatoes before eating them.
Scientists said the same species of monkeys on other islands were suddenly washing their sweet potatoes, too.
The claim was that, as soon as “the hundredth monkey” changed its behavior, all the other monkeys of that species changed their behavior, too. From these observations, the scientists decided that “a critical number” of members is required before a new behavior or idea is adopted by a species.
In this case, the washing of sweet potatoes became universally exhibited in the species coincident with the participation of the hundredth monkey.
From Sweet Potatoes to Steps
I know this sounds outlandish, and maybe it is, as some of the original findings have since been discredited. Still, for me, the metaphor works beautifully and delights me completely. It gives me hope! What if I (or you) were the equivalent of “the hundredth monkey” so to speak? I know I am not because, if I were, every woman in the world would be in Twelve-Step recovery, washing their respective “potatoes.”
But what if one last person is all that is needed to reach the critical mass? What if the honesty dawning in that one last person suddenly started pouring forth from everyone everywhere? Click To Tweet
No longer would we be living in the Land of Looking-Goodism, comparing our insides to everyone else’s outsides.
No more would we be silent with our secrets. Instead, we would be gratefully sharing them because “airing” means sharing our experience, strength and hope: from trials to triumphs; from tests to testimonies. Even now that one last heart might tip the teakettle over so everybody can be singing like we did as kids:
I’m a little teapot, short and stout,
Here is my handle, here is my spout.
When I get all steamed up, then I shout,
“Just TIP me over and pour me out!
Transforming with the Steps
Another inspiring scientific phenomenon is metamorphosis, by which a caterpillar is transformed into a whole new thing. For me, it helps to accept the truth about Metamorphosis: that the Former Me has been replaced and that I am now (like a butterfly) purposed to be bright and a light! And so, I commit to sharing as honestly and openly as I can: every day, taking off my God Suit to seek and receive Heaven’s Help in my little life.
Maybe I’m like a Macaque monkey, offering my hand to anyone who asks. Sometimes my hand is rebuffed, and that’s okay; I was like that once. Maybe that person will be receptive to someone else, some other day; maybe that person will be “the hundredth monkey” before all is said and done.
In the meantime, I just keep on keeping on, fueled by hopeful sharing of friends in recovery whose true stories encourage me to trust and follow the Twelve Steps to where they lead.
Voice and pen became Whitney’s personal ways to be heard. After she married in 1971, she published an article every year as she pursued her professional career and she continued to “sing constantly.”
A turning point for Whitney came in 1989, when she found her way into Twelve-Step recovery.
There, people were sharing “dirty laundry” and seeking God’s guidance to overcome. Now her writing is focused on encouraging others that God is still in the miracle-making business.
To Connect with Whitney:
Websites: Recovery in the Bible
How something is said is just as important as what is said, and that means that how you say something will resonate with other readers. Share your stories of addiction and recovery with a guest post.