My husband passed away a few months ago after a long illness. On the outside, I don’t seem much different. Friends are telling me I look more rested now; I’m getting out more. I’m back at work. But on an interior level, I feel as though I’m going through a metamorphosis of sorts.
I am only half present most of the time: Oh, I ask about people’s children and pets and health and it’s not that I’m not interested. I am. It’s just that at a deeper, almost unconscious level I can feel a deep stirring, a swirling of thoughts and emotions. I am changing.
And the thought came to me that butterflies are lucky. They get to hide in a cocoon when they are going through an incredible transformation. The rest of us must go through our day pretending nothing is different.
When I googled metamorphosis, I found out it’s not that easy on the caterpillar.
The metamorphosis from a caterpillar into a butterfly occurs during the pupa stage. During this stage, the caterpillar’s old body dies and a new body forms inside a protective shell known as a chrysalis. While some people think of cocoons as a resting place, there’s no resting going on inside the cocoon! To the contrary, there’s a lot of activity. Inside the cocoon and the chrysalis, the caterpillar is transforming into a new creature. This requires that the old caterpillar body be broken down and turned into something new. Inside a chrysalis, a caterpillar’s body digests itself from the inside out. The same juices it used to digest food as a larva it now uses to break down its own body
I still think butterflies are lucky. Their transformation (as gruesome as it sounds) is done in secret, and when the butterfly emerges, everyone knows it’s left its caterpillar self behind.
When we transform, we do so in public and often we look the same, and people expect us to be the same.
Butterflies only live for a few short weeks and their purpose in life is clear. Lay eggs — as many of them as possible.
But my life is a dizzying swirl of open-ended questions: who am I without Rod; what do I like; what do I want; what is my purpose? I realized that these are the same issues that my clients come to me about. I do feel I am a more patient, resonant, humble listener.
Butterflies are lucky, but I’d rather be me.