Sometimes change happens like this. You’re sitting around, happy to be a caterpillar, not needing anything to change at all. But then, despite yourself, you feel drawn to build a cocoon in which your wings will grow, and you’ll eventually become a butterfly and everything will change. Whether you thought of change or not, all of sudden, here you are. Things are changing. You have no choice. It’s like night time, and you’re the moon, the sun’s going to rise, you don’t really have a choice about it. The night will become the day and the cycle continues.
Other times you’re a restless caterpillar. Itching, knowing that there’s something else out there, but not knowing what it is. The caterpillar really has no knowledge of being a butterfly, no awareness of it, no sense really. It can’t talk to other caterpillars because no other caterpillar has become a butterfly. They’re all in the same boat, and butterflies, of course, don’t talk to caterpillars, and possibly don’t even remember that they ever were caterpillars.
But the restless caterpillar knows that something needs to change, isn’t sure what, and they might set out on a journey in search of that change. They might try to talk to other beings. They might try to build cocoons before its time for them to be built and fail. The yearning for change can be so compelling and when that change happens, I hope that the caterpillar is ready for it.
Because change is always intense. Whether you seek it out, whether you know it’s coming, whether it’s thrust upon you. Everything shifts. Quite often in an instant. You were one thing, you thought certain things, you were part of something, you identified as that caterpillar. You got used to it. You got used to it being night time and then before you know it, it becomes day time. Then as soon as you get used to the light, the sun goes down. This is the cycle we’re all in.
Change occurs also in another way. In this seemingly perfect, god-scripted moment, and in that moment you know all of your life was leading up to it. When you immerge from that cocoon and spread your wings - your glorious, colorful, magnificent wings - you know that all of your life led to this moment so that you could fly among the flowers, so that you could rise above and see the view.
But the thing about becoming a butterfly is that you can never go back to being a caterpillar. You can’t change your mind. No matter how unsuspectingly it comes upon you or how much you search for it as a restless caterpillar, or even, in that divine intervention type of occurrence, you can’t go back. Maybe you’ll meet all of your caterpillar friends again as a butterfly, maybe you’ll be butterflies together. Maybe some of your caterpillar friends don’t make it or they take a different road. Maybe they were actually moths, and, of course, everybody knows that moths and butterflies don’t talk to each other.
So what do we do with change? How do we embrace it, acknowledge it, accept it? And also accept that we really don’t have very much control. That wherever we are today we are in the process of becoming who we will be.
The truth exists in this moment, and only in this moment. Part of that truth is knowing that this moment will never occur ever again. This very special moment with the breeze just so and the light just so and the scent in the room, or in the garden, just so, the conversation that you’re having, the book that you’re reading, it will never happen again, just like this. Change is always upon us.
There can be a moment, after the change has occurred, when you’ve become a butterfly, where somehow you remember what it was like. Your little caterpillar community that maybe felt very safe and secure, and maybe you don’t even connect with it directly, but you remember it viscerally. It’s in your body, it’s in your bones, it’s part of your DNA. Even when the change has occurred, everywhere that you’ve been is part of your chemistry now, it’s how you got to where you are.
Because we have trouble with remembering, truly remembering, often times when you become that butterfly, when you have that point of evolution, it’s very much a lonely moment. Having that level of observation and awareness - the ability to fly above and see all that is happening - it doesn’t change where other people are in their process of change and evolution.
This metaphor of caterpillar and butterfly may not full encapsulate the complexities of our human experience. Still, it’s very simple that, essentially, we’re always changing. The truth of this moment is that it’s always fleeting, moving into the next and that each moment is building and that we are becoming the person that we are meant to be, however the road is that we will take to get there. Whether we take a more challenging route to get there, or not. We’re headed towards our own evolution, very slowly or very quickly.
But for those of us who, in whatever way, embrace change, pursue change, it can be a very lonely experience to look up, to look around, and realize that knowing what you know, growing how you’ve grown, all you can do is hold up the light. Hope that other people will find you, will find their own way, will find their own light, and you have to be your own brightness. You have to grow your own wings.