Tuesday, January 21, 2014

stealing limelight from the caterpillars

 I almost wish we were butterflies and liv'd but three summer days - three such days with you I could fill with more delight than fifty common years could ever contain.
 ― John Keats, Love Letter to Fanny Brawne

Imagine that you are a young butterfly, just fresh out of the chrysalis.
The world finally rocks.
Your wings are freshly shaken free of their amniotic dew, you've just tasted the intoxicating freshness of the spring breeze.
Then, by some cruel warp in the universe, you are shoved unceremoniously back into your pre-cocoonal cage of flesh.
You are back to being a caterpillar.
Having tasted a life beyond the ubiquitous, monotonous milkweed, you are dismayed to be enmeshed in a lumpy, saggy body of a little insect.

But here's where your real work begins.
How do you regain the power of your wings once more?
You can't just leap off the milkweed leaf, and hope that the wings will appear once more because you want them to. 
No, poor caterpillar, you must accept your fate with the rarest of all virtues.
It's what we call humility. 
Which means an acceptance of our own smallness, and a ready willingness to embrace whatever 
state of life is thrust upon us without our permission.
Humility, it seems, is the greatest path towards gaining power.
As we accept our wingless state, we find that the interior disposition of detachment, of living our lives with our hearts soaring up in the sky, far from our little padded feet crawling across the fuzzy leaf, creates a freedom our wings could never give us.
When we accept a life devoid of the glamour of colored wings and dizzying heights, we find that in the simple life of milkweed and stalks of green, we have cultivated an interior richness that contains all the beautiful things that those with colored wings have to go to dizzying heights to seek.
But we now hold it inside our little caterpillar heart.
When we embrace the pain that comes with our metamorphosis, we find that, in the midst of the sorrow a joy, derived from compassion, wells up within us, for those who bear pain, alone, unthought-of and unaided.
We have found the ability to regard the other caterpillars with love.
Even the annoying ones who eat away at a leaf which we had totally dib-sed way before they did.
We are still caterpillars, but caterpillars transformed.
Perhaps this acceptance seems radically stupid, passive, useless, and completely un-empowered.
But to anyone who has ever felt instinctively in their bones: when I am weak, then I am strong, then they may begin to realize that power is made perfect in weakness.
When we are brought to our knees, we are given the opportunity to understand what it means to be weak, to empty ourselves on, not grasping onto equality with anything.
Simply thinking: here I am, a butterfly, stuck, profoundly and irrevocably stuck, in the body of a caterpillar.
One day, I will be a butterfly again.
And then, I will soar.

 I must endure the presence of a few caterpillars if I wish to become acquainted with the butterflies.
 ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince 

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