I have spent countless hours observing caterpillars, chrysalis and butterflies. I have witnessed the challenge, the risk and the glory of metamorphosis. Each transition is difficult – when the caterpillar hatches it is fine food for birds, lizards and other critters. As they grow into adulthood, the caterpillar needs to find a safe place to cocoon. This is not an easy search for such a small being, and there are many hazards on the way. Once again, they can be eaten by birds, or other creatures, crushed by man or animal or run out of time in their quest.
When the caterpillar finds a suitable place (or unsuitable, time will tell, a Monarch caterpillar once made its chrysalis on a hinge and almost made it until an unwitting guest closed the door… sadly…) I digress – It attaches to the wall. It needs to hold on in order to let go. That always tickles me to say, paradoxes are my thing! Then comes the intense part as the caterpillar’s body seems to dissolve. Sometimes they just don’t make it through this process, it can’t be easy. If they do make it then they become another kind of being. A being stopped in time. Some of them have little faces, others look like dangly jade earrings but all of them are specialized and precise. For in some period of time, from a couple of weeks to a couple of years, the butterfly will emerge.
The monarch butterfly emerging is a miracle of nature I’m overawed to have witnessed many times. As the jade green chrysalis approaches hatching time, the skin begins to become transparent and the butterfly inside is seen as a kind of origami puzzle. When it breaks out of the cocoon it is a fragile being. It takes time to dry off its wings and is very vulnerable for even a gust of wind can knock it to the ground and its wings will deform. They can’t take off yet so are at the mercy of any nearby bird. And yet, many of them flutter happily (I project) into the sunlight. Butterflies can’t fly in cold weather so they are always beacons of springtime.
Once they are aloft they have two activities to fulfill. They sip nectar and aid in pollination as a side effect. They make love and procreate. I once watched a monarch butterfly couple do their coupling for almost an hour. When it was complete, he (I imagine, perhaps wrongly) lifted her up and flew her up to a branch where they rested for a while. It’s a short life, but valuable for sure.
Why am I rambling about this right now? We’re quarantined to be safe from the corona virus, we’re watching our world come to a standstill. We are cocooned. It is a challenge perhaps the biggest challenge of our short lives. Life, as we imagined it was, has ceased to be. We have let go, collectively and individually. We have let go of activity for the most part. We’re not allowed to gather or recreate together. It’s very strange. It seems unnatural. For those of us who have meditated and vision quested it is not difficult but most people have spent their lives avoiding being alone and quiet and listening to their inner voice.
What’s next? I imagine us, like the butterfly, emerging slowly from this cocoon. Taking it one tiny step at a time, into the sunlight. Everything has shifted and I hope that we can collectively make more loving choices as we recreate our systems to better serve humanity and our ecosystem. There are some important things each of us can do to contribute and “be the change”. We can get comfortable with ourselves, honest and true and be clear on what we stand for. I stand for love, for caring, for holding each other up with nobody left behind. I think a basic universal income and guaranteed housing would be a fantastic place to start. All the money spent on the war machine can be turned to providing that and health care, education and funding for the arts. Animal agriculture should be ended and hemp and cannabis farms allowed to prosper and provide.
The sky is the limit! What kind of world do you want to live in? Keep marinating in your cocoon and we can discover that together….I love you!