Emerging from the chrysalis, the butterfly is weak, her wings wet. In the struggle to exit the chrysalis, the wings are strengthened, but she must still sit and fan them, slowly drying them and expanding them to their full potential. She knows herself to be transformed, but yet is not ready to fly.
It comes to me that I am sitting on that stem, having emerged from the struggle of exit, but not yet ready to soar. How does this time differ from that of caterpillarity? Transformation of purpose. The caterpillar has its proper purpose. In that season of life, caterpillars consume and grow, storing the resources needed for transformation to occur. Butterfly eggs are tiny things, and were butterflies to emerge from them directly, they’d be brightly colored gnats that none of us would be able to see.
A butterfly has another purpose. Butterflies dance. They bring joy, fertility, and beauty. Gently sipping nectar, butterflies pollinate the flowers that they so closely resemble. Their fluttering, seemingly random flight imitates the falling leaf and brings a smile to all who see it. They mate, creating more butterflies in the future. Some butterflies are gifted with long lives and inspire us with their impossible migration. Some butterflies, looking no different to us, are here today and gone tomorrow. The butterflies do not choose, the butterflies exist. They live.
Emerging from the chrysalis of my time of transformation, my time of midlife “crisis”, I sit on the branch, fanning my wings, waiting for them to dry. I see the sky and I smell the pollen, and I yearn for flight. I was asked today, so what difference is there between this you and the one before? Between the butterfly, not yet in flight, and the caterpillar?
I have been transformed. My caterpillar-self so yearned to fly, and she beat herself up with endless to-do lists. If you have not achieved, it is because you do not work hard enough. Hard work and the consumption of good mental food are the proper business of caterpillars. But the self-deprecation is not. The caterpillar cannot choose when the moment to spin the chrysalis will come, nor does the caterpillar know what will come after. Beating myself up for not achieving my goals was not healthy. I was not about my proper business and letting the consequences be what they would – I was judging my proper business by my lack of achievement.
Transformed, I beat my wings and wait, knowing that I will aim and sometimes I will go where I intend, and sometimes the breeze will take me elsewhere, but as long as I am in flight, as long as I do what I was made to do, that I will serve the purpose for which I was made. It is not for me to choose every flower and plan the fertility of the field over which I flit, it is for me to sip, to dance, to move in joy – it is for me to fly.
Emerging from the chrysalis, as I dry my wings I choose beauty – for one of my purposes is beauty. I choose exhortation, for one of my purposes is encouragement. I choose activity, for one of my purposes is to be seen. To take one’s place as what one was made to be is not pride, it is joy – the butterfly dances in the air, the exquisite colors of its wings for all to see – and that is its purpose. Were the butterfly to hide, it would not be what it ought.
So for now, I flap my wings and dry them, scenting the flowers all around me and growing more excited – flight is but a moment away.