[Note : This is a post written during the Corona Virus Pandemic and the global crisis. However, I believe this might be a relevant post during any kind of crisis.]
They told me that I was going through a natural transformation. I was no longer going to be part of the Caterpillar Community. I was going to graduate to being a Butterfly soon. The elders even had a name for this phase – Metamorphosis they called it.
It felt a little daunting but I was excited for this. “How much could it possibly hurt?“, I asked myself. I decided to start this journey and allow myself to get absorbed in this internal process. Soon, I noticed my body starting to change. The cocoon started to grow. The elders considered this cocoon as the wings of a Celestial Butterfly somewhere in the heavens, that wrapped all around us to keep us warm and safe through this process of change.
Soon it was all quiet. I was inside the cocoon. It was warm and dark all around. And I just had to lay there and wait for Mother Nature to do her work on me.
But suddenly, one day, something went horribly wrong. It felt like something huge had rammed into me and I was hurled into the air. I was hurtling in the sky and I could feel my insides churn. I was going to crash and die. I held my breath and waited for it to happen – my death.
But it didn’t. I landed on something soft.
“Oh dear! I was in water. This is bad news. I am supposed to stay warm and dry if my body has to change. Now the water is going to get inside my cocoon and I am going to die…..What’s happening??? Is this normal??”
“Oh no! The speed is increasing. I am being tossed around in the water. This is too fast for me. Help me somebody!! I am going to drown in this current…..”
It feels like something is pounding at my cocoon. It is trying to break open my shell. Am I on fire? Why do I feel like I am burning up? I don’t know anymore. What is happening here?
My head was reeling. It was dark inside. I couldn’t see anything that was actually happening outside. I could only feel a lot of pain all over my body. They told me I was supposed to rest while my body disintegrated and grew again. But nobody told me about having to deal with crazy things happening outside. Why didn’t they tell me that I could possibly die through this process. Maybe this was all my fault. I should have known.
“Why did I even agree to go through this transformation? I could have just stayed as the caterpillar. I didn’t need to become a butterfly. Was there any way I could go back to how it was earlier? I don’t want to be a butterfly. Please let me out of this place. I didn’t ask for this. What am I going to do? Why is all this happening to me??”
Hey! I am not moving now. Something seems to have steadied on the outside.
But what is that sound I hear?
Oh my god! Crows!! Crows can always spot caterpillars and they love to eat us up. They are surely going to get me. I am going to be eaten alive.
Why? Why? Why? Why does it have to be so hard?
Nobody else went through Metamorphosis in this way? Everybody else told me that it was a period of quiet and an inward transformation. But how did the situation outside get so hostile?
I am such a fool. I shouldn’t have wanted to become a butterfly. It’s all my fault.
I wish I could just die without having to suffer too much. But I don’t want to die. How is this Crow going to kill me now?
Wait! I hear a voice. What is it saying? Is it the crows talking? What is it saying?
“Trust your Cocoon. Your cocoon is harder than you know.”
Wait, what? Who is this?
Why does this voice sound closer than the crow’s voice?
Is there another person inside my cocoon? I can’t see. It is too dark in here.
“Hey, are you talking to me? Can you help me please?”
“Yes, I am talking to you. You have got to trust your cocoon. Your shell is built for all of this. None of this has happened to others before. So you haven’t heard stories about how they lived through this or how they managed this phase. You are right. It is hostile on the outside and it has caught you at your weakest moment. But I am here to remind you that your shell is built to take this on. You might feel like you are being hurled in the air, or drowning in the water, or being pounded by something scary or about to be gobbled up by some monster. But you seem to have forgotten that Mother Nature has given you your shell. Trust your Cocoon. ”
“Your words are strangely comforting. Who are you? How do you know all of this?”
“Well I am you. They call me Chrysalis.”
When a caterpillar goes through the process of Metamorphosis, it builds a hard shell around itself made of protein and then a softer coat around it made of silk.
Some people think that the cocoon is a place of rest. In reality the larva produces digestive juices that breaks its own body down just like how we digest food in our stomach. The larva digests its own body to pulp. This digested mass starts to recombine to form a new body that is completely different from the older body.
Ultimately a butterfly emerges, ready to break open from the hard shell and the softer coat around.
The soft coat made of Silk is called the Cocoon. And the hard shell inside the cocoon, that actually digests the larva and gives birth to the butterfly is called the Chrysalis.
This story is a metaphor.
Many of us were deeply absorbed in resolving our own internal challenges. We were deeply focused on creating a metamorphosis for the situation that we already were in. Maybe we were being caregivers to ailing parents, managing financial challenges, barely trying to hold together a difficult relationship, desperately seeking help to sort crises with our kids. Maybe we were just grappling with health scares for our own selves. Some were even dealing with depression, anxieties and mental health struggles in their own way and just about managing to figure things out for themselves.
We were in our own process of reflection and introspection, when suddenly Life outside got hostile.
For many it could feel like you were dealing with a roller-coaster inside of you already, and now suddenly you are forced to be part of another bigger roller coaster on the outside. Maybe the last few months have felt like you are being tossed around aimlessly.
Well, it is natural to not know where you are headed. Nobody knows.
But here’s what I ask you :
~ What are your resources that you can bank on? Something that life has blessed you with already.
~ What is your ‘Chrysalis’ that you have (maybe) forgotten about? Is this the time to find your solid shell of strength and trust that there is something in you that has got your back.