I’ve always had a fascination with butterflies. One of my very first tattoos is of two butterflies joined together by their wings. This tattoo has served as a reminder of one of my life goals to be self-actualized. Self-actualization is the joining together of our two selves (ego and spirit) to become our True Self. I believe this is the journey of life. I used to think that life was this linear process, starting off as a fetus (egg) growing in our mother’s womb into a baby (caterpillar) and moving through life until we enter the chrysalis phase (adolescence through young adulthood), and then finally entering adulthood (butterflies), where we’ve reached our peak and earned the right to spread our wings and fly.
I’ve discovered that life is not a linear process, in fact, it is a continuous and circular one, like a rollercoaster. We continuously go through a metamorphosis and will continue this process throughout our lifetime. At each level of maturity (read: growth) we experience changes in our behavior, thoughts, and actions. We essentially die of our old selves to become a ‘new’ self. We awaken to a new level of understanding than our previous self was aware of or could comprehend. We are continuously changing from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly.
Here’s how this works:
As a caterpillar we are unaware of the metamorphosis process. This is our feeding stage. We gain knowledge, insight, and perspective through our experiences, interactions, and relationships with other caterpillars. We are learning and growing during this stage. We enjoy our caterpillar lives, making caterpillar friends, and enjoying life as a caterpillar. We move through life as and are content with being caterpillars. We do not know that our life as a caterpillar will soon come to an end and that we will be transformed into one of the most beautiful creatures in this world. We are unaware of the other life that is awaiting us.
Caterpillars instinctively reach higher ground to find a twig or a leaf to become a pupa. This process is known as chrysalis. To the caterpillar, seemingly their life is coming to an end. It may not look like anything is happening but a lot of changes are taking place on the inside. During this phase the caterpillar grows new legs, eyes, and even wings! While all of this is taking place, the caterpillar believes that life has come to an end. At this stage the caterpillar no longer exists. Essentially the caterpillar dies of itself and is transformed into a butterfly.
During this phase of our life we experience great tragedy. Think of the chrysalis process as going through a valley. We face many trials and tribulations, obstacles, and struggles. Life appears to be unfair and every turn seems to be the wrong turn. Nothing goes as planned and we become uncertain about the direction of our life. We do not yet know that everything we are experiencing is preparing us for something greater. When we go through hardships in life, we become frustrated, angry, and upset. Like the caterpillar, we do not know that we are experiencing a transformation. We feel defeated, doubtful, and hopeless. All the pain, heartache, and struggle is preparing us for the next phase of our life. We are growing new legs, eyes, and wings so that once we break out of our chrysalis we can learn how to fly.
What emerges from the chrysalis, is a scared, yet beautiful butterfly. Though the butterfly now has wings, it is still incapable of flying just yet. In order for the butterfly to use what it has been giving during the metamorphosis process, it has to wait for its’ wings to dry.
If the butterfly attempts to fly before its’ wings are ready, it could fall to its death.
After going through difficult times in our life, we spring up as new beings, filled with greater energy, gusto, and faith than we did before. There is a greater sense of hope, faith, and determination that we can do anything that we put our minds to. As butterflies we are capable of taking on the world. We’ve learned things and gained knowledge through our metamorphosis process that we will use in our new life as butterflies. Though we’ve gained valuable information we may not be able to use them right away. Isn’t it frustrating, when you’ve been given valuable information and/or tools, but you still do not have the capability to use what has been given to you? This preparation period is extremely important! Trust your process and know where you are in life’s cycle. Soon you will be capable of taking flight without any resistance or struggle.
Everything in nature has the perfect timing. Whether you are a caterpillar, chrysalis, or butterfly, trust the timing of the space you are in. Soon you will transform from who you think you are into someone you never imagined you could be. Like a caterpillar, you will transform from something small and simple into something vibrant and beautiful. We are all caterpillars transitioning into butterflies and back again. There’s growth in every phase of our life, show gratitude and appreciation for where you are and trust the process. We are all in transition.