Moldy Peanuts

There once was a little boy who woke up from a terrible nightmare in which he was being abused and bullied by a relative. He was so afraid that he ran from his bedroom and went to the cellar to hide. Unbeknownst to him, however, the door to the cellar closed and locked itself after he had entered and, when we went to leave (after he had calmed down of course) he could not get out. Well, he pounded and pounded on the door and no one heard him, or at least no one came to open the door. He cried and wailed, but no one heard him.

At last he became hungry and went back into the cellar to see what there was that he could eat. The only thing he could find were two rather large barrels of peanuts which he gladly scooped up in both hands and began eating. He also found a water faucet that worked and was able drink all he needed.

Time went on and on. He made a bed of old rags and bags and found a sleeping bag he could crawl in to stay warm, so he slept when he needed. But he kept going to the barrels of peanuts and grabbing handfuls that he could always have handy to munch on, even when they became old, moldy and tasteless. He became so attached to his peanuts and the comfort they gave him that it soon became second nature to him to always hold on to two handfuls of peanuts – even when he was not hungry; even while he was asleep.

One day, when he had gotten used to his dreary life and tasteless peanuts, he decided he was tired of the way things were going and he climbed the stairs of the cellar, determined to get out, even if he had to kick down the door. He was certain that the door was still locked but decided to give it a try anyway and, to his surprise, it turned and the door opened. Even further shocking to him, the room he went into was not familiar to him at all.

Before him was a huge room filled with table after table of all of the most wonderful food he could have imagined. The smell was beyond wonderful, the sight made him drool. At last he was free. At last he could eat wonderful nourishing food. At last he could live! And he rushed to the table holding the empty plates, impatient to begin. But when he got there, he was not able to pick up a plate.

He was still holding on to two handfuls of old, moldy peanuts. He looked around in panic and looked for someone to come help him. No one was there. Then he noticed a sign with simple words, “Let go.” Well, that did not help him at all. How could he let go of that which had kept him alive this whole time when he was alone and abandoned? Hell, he thought, if he had not had these peanuts he would have died! Let go indeed!

Wait, he thought, what if I just put the peanuts on the plate and then loaded this great food on top. Sure, the old and moldy peanuts might get mixed up with the new food and the new food may not taste as good but at least I would have the old peanuts that kept me alive! Anyway, what if the new food wouldn’t keep me alive? What if it didn’t taste any better? What if it spoiled and I couldn’t get more of my peanuts? WHAT THEN???

He looked up and saw another sign this time with bigger letters, “LET GO.” Then he looked around at all of the walls and saw sign after sign proclaiming the same thing, “LET GO, LET GO, LET GO.”

He sighed, and seeing no other alternative he screwed up his courage, counted to three and opened his hands, letting go of the old peanuts.

And then the real fear hit him like a bolt of lightning, he had NOTHING in his hands. From the moment he let go of the old and before he partook of the new – he had nothing, and that was indeed his greatest fear.

The moral of this story is easy. What old moldy peanuts are you holding onto in your life because they are comfortable and because they have protected you and helped you survive? You say you want to change your life. You say you want all of the good things you deserve. You say you want to thrive. If you do then before you can partake of the goodness you must let go of the old. Before you can experience harmony you must let go of that which is disharmonious. Before you can experience love you must let go of hate. Before you can be your truth, you must let go of your lies.

Before you can fully experience who you are you must let go of all that you are not.

Then ask yourself, was my pain just an illusion that I made real in order to learn?


  1. Mishi says:

    I love this story!

  2. Diane says:

    I love this story also. As I am older, my peanuts are rancid. I am still unable to let go of the dreams I had of family and marriage when I was young. My guilt and shame keep me tethered to my mistakes. I can not even see the new food on the table.

  3. Bev MacKenzie says:

    Hey Bill,
    I told my SA friend Claire this story today. Her comment was that this is all well and good, but her ex-husband then takes away the plate and stomps all over the peanuts! How do we handle this as I feel Keith does the same to me? You said to be sweet and nice and cool towards him….

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