Do you ever look at a butterfly and notice its translucent wings of various hues and patterns? It flutters in the sunlight and its beauty is magnificent. We marvel at the hands of nature, so skilled and so brilliant to be able to create a creature so immaculate. Yet, when we look at a caterpillar, often times, we view it only as what it can be, not what it is. The significance of a caterpillar is not that it is a caterpillar, but that it can become a butterfly.
Such a creature is characterized most of all by its evolution, which is the epitome of profound reinvention. A caterpillar’s very being is made of billions of cells who dutifully perform every task necessary to prepare its host for the final stages of metamorphosis. It sheds its old skin, lives in a new one for a while and when it outgrows that one, it sheds again. Then when it is ready, the caterpillar hides from the world, cocoons itself in a hard casing, and forms a chrysalis. It is during this time of progression that the cells of the caterpillar start changing rapidly. It eats itself and turns to liquid inside its pupa, molding into a new form better equipped for its new life. Old, unnecessary cells make room for improved ones while the other cells that remain reshape themselves into eyes, legs, wings and antennas– all the parts necessary for its reintroduction into the world. Then once the butterfly is ready, it fights its way out of its cocoon.
It reaches the final stage of its transformation, but it is still weak. Its body is still tender from the process of its transition. There is a brief period after it first unfolds from its casing where the butterfly must stop and give itself time for blood to fill its wings.
Then it flies.
No longer confined to the limits of its many legs, the butterfly explores the infinite paths of new wings.
We are, in so many ways, caterpillars crawling and consuming ceaselessly and without thought. When we reach our limit, we find ourselves at a standstill. During this time, it is easy to think we’ve reached our end and that there’s nowhere else to go. Like the cells of the caterpillar, every part of us will start to seem useless, unable to perform the tasks that were once necessary for survival and for growth. Our old cells are no longer beneficial, so we outgrow them. Thus begins our own transition where our old self forces itself into a new mold. We learn, adapt, and become better versions of who we are.
It is because we have these periods of weakness that we can achieve such strength. And just like butterflies, the lengths of our transitions vary among each one of us. While some may only take a couple weeks to transform themselves, others can take months and even years. Regardless, we are not defined by how long it may take us to escape our cocoon because we are ever-growing creatures running through an obstacle course that’s unique to us.
So when you look upon others who seem to be soaring with ease, and feelings of defeat start to consume you, remember that you are still a changing caterpillar simply growing within your chrysalis. The process of your transformation will be an arduous one. Yet, it is because of its difficulty that you will be better. You will be stronger. You will leave your cocoon with wings so radiant, you will be blinding.
And yes. You will be magnificent.