“Adding wings to caterpillars does not create butterflies, it creates awkward and dysfunctional caterpillars. Butterflies are created through transformation.” ~Stephanie Marshall
During the pandemic I’ve had the luxury of on-going conversations with my coaching clients; they’ve kept me sane.
And I’ve noticed, over the months, that sometimes, certain weeks clients talk about things that have a common theme. Those weeks I often find myself giving similar responses, to the point that by the end of the week I’m asking clients if I’ve already told them whatever it is I’m saying.
This week was one of those.
The theme was change, but more specifically, the anxiety that often accompanies a journey into the unknown and the patience required to endure it.
One client has a new boss who’s made promises to address the issues that have caused my client to seriously consider leaving.
Another client is exiting a long-term marriage, even as her business soars, an excruciating bouncing back and forth between the ends of the spectrum of human experience.
Another is undergoing a medical procedure soon, the outcome of which is not guaranteed.
And that’s the thing, isn’t it—the lack of guarantees. If we had a guarantee of a desired outcome, change would be easy.
Without a guarantee, we are required to trust, and I don’t know about you, but nowadays that’s increasingly difficult.
Yet, here we are, as a species, in the midst of a pandemic which is inexorably, irrevocably changing the landscape of our familiar, known existence.
And all change involves the relinquishment of the familiar.
“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” ~Maya Angelou
The caterpillar forms a cocoon at a natural stage of its development, hunkers down and undergoes a complete metamorphosis, transforming into a butterfly.
The caterpillar is cute and moves slowly. Nothing frightening about it at all.
The cocoon is ugly and deathlike. Immobile. Stale.
The butterfly is beautiful, elegant and flies anywhere it wants.
Seems to me, it’s not just my clients. It’s the entire world right now. We are in a collective cocoon, and the future is uncertain.
Hard to believe there’s a butterfly in the making.
And even harder still to believe we will be able to fly—anywhere we want.
But it begs a question, before we even attempt to spread our wings.
The question is not where do we want to fly, but rather who do we want to have become during this time in our cocoon?
Change can feel like a small death, an ending to what was, without proof of what will be revealed.
I’m sure it must feel that way to a caterpillar before it emerges from its chrysalis.
But it waits, anyway, trusting it will one day grow wings.
We would all do well to develop a caterpillar’s patience.
“Death consists, indeed, in a repeated process of unrobing, or unsheathing. The immortal part of man shakes off from itself, one after the other, its outer casings, and – as the snake from its skin, the butterfly from its chrysalis – emerges from one after another, passing into a higher state of consciousness.” ~Annie Besant