Butterfly, transformation and pain

September 9, 2018

 

 

 

 

Transformation hurts like hell. Let’s not dress it up and fluff it out in new age terms. It hurts, it’s uncomfortable,  it’s scary, it’s messy and the struggle against it leaves us exhausted. What it is also, however, is necessary, part of our evolution and a change we cannot stop if we want to survive.

 

The beautiful transformation from a leaf-eating caterpillar to a nectar-sipping butterfly is more often than not told from a butterfly’s perspective. We all know it all too well, the story about transforming into something more beautiful (very subjective), about the freedom to fly (what about the fear of heights?) and about enjoying the nectar of the flowers (I’ve never heard a caterpillar complain about the taste of leaves). Those stories speak to the journey of a butterfly, of his courage and persistence and his liberation.

 

But what about the caterpillar?

 

During one of the darkest moments of my life I often wondered how it felt to instinctively know that your life as you know it must end, that all you loved and enjoyed until now will be taken away from you, that you will change into something that you cannot comprehend at this moment and you might even fear?

 

When transformation approaches, we are not seeking light and friends and popsicles, rather we try to retreat from the world, hide under the bed and be still, hoping that this will pass like a bad bout of flu.

 

Like a caterpillar we build a cocoon of no wifi, no texts, no call and definitely no meetings outside of those necessary (like showing up to work, although even this sometimes might be too much)... and we wait.

 

In those moments, in those dark corners of our room, we enter the realm of mythical.

 

Without consciously knowing what we're doing, we all follow the same pattern - going deep within our inner cocoon, into the darkness of the mythical forest, and experiencing a night that seems to last for months.

 

We know about this Soul journey, like we do about all other soul journeys: from the fairy tales, from the myths and from those long, late-night conversations with a friend who has traveled through those dark places and came back to tell his tale.

 

So what do those stories really teach us?

 

One thing that I’ve learnt was that we have no choice but to transform. Like we have no choice to grow from a child, or to grow old - we cannot stop the process of transformation any more that we can stop the process of aging. Transformation is part of life.

 

We also know that we must go on this journey alone. We must make our own Path and we must have a courage to face that darkness of the cocoon/forest/cave alone. No one else can do it for us because there is no map.

 

What we also know is that once we set out on this journey we will find friends and allies (sometimes in the most unexpected places) who are there to help us navigate and support us. The journey is different for each of us, yet each story tells us of those unexpected encounters of a Baba Yaga, of a nymph, or shopkeeper, or taxi driver that showed us what we needed to know at the time.

We have tremendous capacity and inner strength in us to fulfill that journey. Like the caterpillar that goes into his cocoon to melt into the Unknown with the trust he can find that deep inner peace. And  to face the struggles of transformation with strength and dignity, to emerge liberated by the experience, lighter, unburden and ready to enjoy wonder and happiness as a Butterfly.

 

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“Without darkness, nothing comes to birth,
As without light, nothing flowers.”

May Sarton

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