The Cocoon and the Butterfly

Raise your hand if you're watching Wild Wild Country. Fascinating show.

I watched the finale last night. Jane Stork (a.k.a. Ma Shanti B) was talking about leaving the commune, relating it to a butterfly freeing itself from its cocoon. What a laborious process that is. How the cocoon doesn't just pop open and the butterfly fly out. How there's wriggling and writhing and it takes a long, long time to free itself. 

And then the butterfly gets all the glory.

But what about its life as a caterpillar? All those feet on the ground, perhaps knowing it was meant to fly? What about the commitment to cocoon itself for the hope of something better? What about the work that took? The courage. What about that? 

As I'm in limbo--between cities, between jobs, between who I was and who I will be, I'm trying to appreciate the struggle. All the effort it takes to get from one place to another. 

It's clear why people opt out of this. Why they choose to stay the same. Why they settle for good enough, rather than strive for their best life. Because cocoons are sticky. And hard to get out of. And when we do free ourselves, we arrive to the world as a new thing. A new thing people may not understand. A new thing we may not understand.

It's just easier to stay the same.

I saw a viral post on Twitter yesterday. About how someone didn't get her dream job, but worked hard and applied two years later and got it. It was supposed to be inspirational, and it was for many people. But not for me. Because it didn't give credit to this in between. The two years this women spent working hard, wriggling out of her cocoon. And how uncomfortable that cocoon probably was. And, in sticking with the analogy, how there was no guarantee she would become a butterfly.


Jobs come and go. Dreams do, too. But the capacity to move through it all, all the uncertainty, to move forward towards the unknown with grace and beauty and fierceness and grit, not to "become" anything but to simply be who we are meant to be today, in this moment, as we are. That's the story I'm interested in. 

Because there are no guarantees. 

And because it takes guts to own the struggle. And I'd like to see us do this more.

And because becoming a butterfly is so not the point. The point is we work hard and we move towards the things we love because it is in us to do that and because we've been entrusted with talents and abilities and it is our privilege and duty to grow and manifest those talents and abilities so that we can give them back to the world. 

This is a radical act of generosity and love. 

And this is what it's about.

Not that you became a butterfly but that you struggled and broke one wing on the way out and you still learned to fly.