Monday, April 20, 2015

Moths, Butterflies and Chicks...

I had an interesting conversation with the therapist a while back (before I decided not to go back) as I was telling her about feeling like a butterfly coming out of the cocoon ... She corrected me, the butterfly comes out of the chrysalis, and the moth comes out of the cocoon. It is not just a semantic distinction.

Once (or twice) I compared teenagers to chicks.  You know, they are moody little guys (teenagers), but I think we should cut them some slack.  Like chicks, they have to create their next stage in life.  Chicks peck at that shell until they make it out.  They seem overcome with joy, maybe relief at the freedom from the shell.  But, of course, they are also tired, maybe even exhausted.  And when they get enough distance from the shell, they must also be frightened suddenly without external protection.  Remaking your life or creating the next stage of your life is exhausting, exhilarating and frightening (could not think of an "e" fear word, sorry).

A couple of years ago, I was at a silent day-long meditation retreat when I witnessed a moth trying to crawl out of his cocoon.  They looked like dried up leaves on silk strings, dangling in the wind.  They were all over.  It wasn't until I sat down in the grass, tired of walking meditation, that I realized they were not leaves at all.

I sat and watched, mesmerized, as the little moth pulled itself up the string.  I watched it pull, slowly and surely, and pull and pull and then sink back into the cocoon.  It kept trying.  I thought, this has got to be the epitome of two steps forward and one step back.  I got called back into the group meditation before the moth made it out.

I was left with the determined impression of the little fella.  It was like watching seemingly tireless work.  It certainly gave me a better appreciation for those often overlooked moths - especially the ones that seemed to bash themselves mercilessly against the lights several springs ago.  I guess I can cut them a little slack, too, for being exhausted and distracted after all that work.

Butterflies apparently don't struggle in the same way.  The chrysalis is not a covering, it is the butterfly in its in-between stage.  Its matter takes some time to transform itself -- but it is not exactly an external covering the way the silk/cocoon or shell are.  It is just another layer of skin that needs to be shed.  It is not just that the butterfly emerges from that stage as a beautiful creature, there is definitely something about it not needing to struggle to become that beautiful self.  I bet that butterfly isn't moody.

The determination and inner strength might be equal, but they seem different to me.  To be sure, though, none of these three needed help to get where they needed to go. No white knights or heroes were coming to rescue these creatures.

 I haven't been able to summon much of the inner strength needed to either transform myself or break out of this external covering.  But I am sure that whatever I need has got to be inside me somewhere.  The universe seems to be signalling in many ways that I need to stop looking for that strength outside of myself.

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