Today I was considering what personal freedom meant to me. Personal and financial freedom also. Then the process that a monarch butterfly undertakes to change from caterpillar to butterfly flitted through my brain. (Pardon the pun.) I think this is probably one of the most universal symbols of change, the transformation of something or someone into another.
I don’t know if you ever watched video of a butterfly emerging from a cocoon, this but I actually just looked it up on YouTube. If you haven’t ever seen this before, I am telling you, this is worth seeing. I watch a caterpillar crawl up on the end of the leaf. Then, it starts to form this little
attachment where it’s going to hang upside down. Then, it hangs upside down and what looks like is happening is the caterpillar actually starts to shed its skin from the inside out.
I just thought it was a dormant process entering the cocoon, but forming the cocoon looks to me to be super hard work. The caterpillar somehow noticed that it was time to change.
We reach that point ourselves, too. You think “Hey, today is the day that things have got to give. Today is the day that things need to start moving forward in some different way.” That’s what a caterpillar does. It forms this cocoon by shedding its own skin, by literally sloughing off its outer layer. By giving up what it used to be. It forms this shell, this chrysalis. Then after some struggle, the old skin is shed and the chrysalis is fully formed. The caterpillar appears dormant and looks totally still inside that shell for quite some time.
Transformation is an inside job. On the inside, things are changing. Things are shifting around inside that shell, as a new form emerges. All this change is happening inside even though you can’t see anything happening from the outside. Then, a terrible struggle ensues, but it’s a beautiful struggle at the same time. It’s literally a fight for life. It’s that moment when you’re totally confined in life and you realize it’s time to break free. It’s time to break free and the old outer skin that used to be your skin no longer serves. Inside your chrysalis, you have become beautiful, changed, dynamic – but no one else can see it.
You start to fight and the butterfly is fighting. It’s fighting, it’s punching off the old skin. It’s punching out of the old cocoon. It’s pushing and shoving and shoving and pushing because it’s stuck, it’s stuck.
We relish our personal freedom. We don’t appreciate it until we’ve been trapped, maybe in a thankless job, by circumstances at home, or by our own thoughts.
You see the butterfly is completely trapped in his own skin, in her own skin. There comes that moment in time when it is time to break free. The butterfly has been still and now he knows, now she knows.
You’ve got to do it. You’ve got to break free. The butterfly begins a struggle. Starts to punch and kick and move, move its wings and it can’t move much at all. In fact, you’ll see that it’s just creating a little bit of space, a little bit of space. A little bit of space as it starts to move and it starts to get desperate.
It’s desperate because it’s been trapped inside of its own skin, trapped inside of its old life; it’s ready to transform.
We know when we’re ready, don’t we? When we’re sick and tired of being sick and tired!
“The transformation has happened,
the changes have happened
but it still hasn’t broken free. It starts to struggle, it starts to push and shove and shove and push, creating a little bit more space.”
Then finally, one foot breaks through the old cocoon. One foot breaks through the old skin. One foot, bam! breaks through the old life. It’s that moment, it’s that moment when you’re finally tasting freedom. No longer confined to the stuffy air of the cocoon. There’s a whiff of fresh air and you move from panic into exhilaration.
Exhilaration knowing that you’re close and then you start punching and kicking with your other foot. You’re pushing against that old life. You’re pushing against the cocoon. You’re pushing, you’re shoving, you’re shoving, you’re pushing. Then, bam! an antenna pops out. Then, the lid comes off the thing and your head is now in the fresh air and the butterfly can breathe. It breathes but it’s not yet done. It continues to struggle and it begins to emerge. Finally, pulling and pushing and clawing, it gains its freedom.
Oh, fresh air. Oh, freedom. But the job is not done. The butterfly needs to spread his wings. The wings have collected moisture inside that cocoon, condensation. Now, they need to dry. The butterfly starts to stretch and stretch and push and pull and shove and finally, the wings, they unfold.
The butterfly moves the wings back and forth drying them and then suddenly in a moment, not only is the transformation done, not only has the butterfly broken free, he has spread his wings and a fresh summer current catches the butterfly.
The butterfly is no longer confined to the ground, no longer confined to crawl along on his belly anymore. Now, she’s free to soar the skies and experience and taste the joy of freedom. It’s the very struggle of breaking free that prepares that butterfly to spread her wings and fly.
Today, will you break free? Will you do what it takes to spread your wings and catch that current of air and soar?