Remembering Our Caterpillar Moments
Once in a while a conversation takes place that for no other reason I believe to cause us to stop and think; to ponder or search for an “ahh haa” moment. Such a conversation took place at a Christmas party with friends this week. A friend shared that her young daughter asked her if butterflies remember being a caterpillar. Because butterflies have become an inspiration to me, a symbol of transformation and hope, I couldn’t help but not only participate in the conversation but to carry the thoughts home with me and roll them around my head for a while. Is it possible that the butterfly remembers or does it just go through the transformation because that’s just the way it is? Does the butterfly remember the cold, dark cocoon?
Life, I believe is filled with opportunities to transform ourselves physically, emotionally and professionally. The likelihood that we will stay the same in either of these elements is doubtful; staying the same is nearly impossible. Quite often we discover that those around us struggle with our transformation. I remember several years ago sharing a conversation with a member of my recovery group. She and her husband were both severely over weight. She made the decision to get healthy and lose the weight and her husband struggled with her transformation. The more weight she lost the more difficult it became to live with him. Instead of supporting her healthier lifestyle he tried to sabotage her success by making sure her favorite sweets were readily available; candy dishes were always full, ice cream filled the freezer and the cookie jar was placed in the middle of the kitchen counter. Instead of helping her win the race he placed huge obstacles in her way because he was afraid to see her change; he was afraid she would leave him behind.
American poet Dean Jackson wrote “When she transformed into a butterfly, the caterpillars spoke not of her beauty, but of her weirdness. They wanted her to change back into what she always had been. But she had wings.” As I think about this quote I am reminded that not everyone will be happy and supportive of your success; criticism is a real possibility. Having gone through a significant transformation in the past year I am grateful to those in my immediate world support who accept the new me (K2) and acknowledge those who don’t. I appreciate their struggle knowing that the issue rests solely in them; it’s not up to me to seek their approval. Change is a good thing. It is important, however, to promote change in a positive light. Being mindful of your interactions with them while staying true to yourself is important. It may mean that you no longer participate in certain activities with them or that the dynamic of your relationship changes; and that’s okay. We cannot hide our wings because someone else doesn’t want us to fly.
So do butterflies remember being a caterpillar? Do they remember their time being squished inside the tight cold dark cocoon? Those questions will probably never be answered, however, I believe that as humans our ability to remember the caterpillar moments of our lives allows us to enjoy the butterfly moments with a deep appreciation. In order to have happiness we must endure sadness. In order to have spring we must endure the harshness of winter. In order to claim victory we must know defeat. In order to fly like the butterfly we must work through the caterpillar moments breaking free of what holds us down. Indian author Ritu Ghatourey sums it up best I think by saying “No expectations, no prejudgment. Like a butterfly flies from its cocoon into a fresh new beginning, don’t let your past be your tour guide.
I think we all need a touch point a place we can go to be inspired. Karla is my children’s teacher, a good friend, and a person with a heart of gold. I hope that her words will inspire you to do more. We are only as good as the people we surround ourselves with. It is important to listen with your heart and proceed with your eyes open. Enjoy!
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