The caterpillar’s journey

The other day, a friend of mine shared a video on social media of his three-year-old son in the garden being absolutely fascinated by a little caterpillar. The video struck me because his fascination was so innocent and absolute. He didn’t need to know anything about it to know that it was a beautiful creation and experience joy just in seeing it.

When you think about it though, caterpillars really are incredibly fascinating creatures. In a matter of days, that caterpillar would have wrapped itself in a cocoon and dissolved itself into a complete liquid before transforming into a butterfly.

Now, I don’t know if a caterpillar thinks or feels but I imagine that if they do, going through that process would feel like dying. I got to thinking that if there were more caterpillars with human thoughts and emotions, there would probably be a lot less butterflies in the world.

A human caterpillar would probably say, “You know, I don’t think I’m ready. I don’t think I completely understand the process. I’m not sure I understand all the steps for turning into liquid.”

Or they might say, “I don’t think I’m as good at that as the other caterpillars. I don’t know if I’m as natural as my friends. They seem to have done it so effortlessly. And the cocoon is so small. Tight spaces make me nervous.”

Another one might say “Why do I have to be a butterfly anyway?! Look at what I’ve done with my life as a caterpillar. I am a happy caterpillar. I could eat all that I need, and I could move anywhere I want on on my legs. Why do I need wings? Why all this pressure?”

The thing is, that is what the caterpillar was born to do – it was born to become a butterfly. And while it’s there in the juice, the caterpillar doesn’t have to know what to do. That caterpillar doesn’t actually have to do anything. It just has to allow that process to happen. Because as it is in that liquid, all that remains are the “imaginal cells” that contain all the intelligence and the information that is required for its next stage of evolution.

I share this because it feels like over the last two years, the world has been in that “caterpillar juice”. So much of what we knew, or thought we knew, has dissolved and something new is coming into being that is different from what was there before. It’s easy to look at this transformation and feel like it is just happening around us, but we are also participants in that process. It is also happening through us. Consciously or not, we are all going through a process of transformation.

This is why I think in so many conversations, I speak with clients who are beginning to ask “how do I connect with a sense of purpose? How do I truly create more meaning and fulfilment in my life? What does that even look like?”

Fundamentally, our purpose is to become the butterfly that we were born to be.

We do that by expressing what’s within us. Not figuring it out, but letting it out – that unique expression of the gifts, skills, talents, abilities, and passions that we would give us deep joy to share with the world. It might be in simple day-to-day interactions, or it might tie into the bigger picture of our career or life’s work. We already know it in our hearts. Often, it’s just a whisper – a thought, a feeling, an idea – but we so often meet that whisper with a “No.”

In our heart there are things that we feel called to create but we discount them because we don’t know how we could really make it happen. We come up with good reasons why we can’t. We rule ourselves out and dismiss these signals as daydreams without allowing them to exist as possibilities.

So I want to invite you to begin to listen to what that voice says. Notice those whispers. Write down those inspired ideas, even if you can’t see any way to make it happen right now. By doing this you begin to acknowledge your inner wisdom, even if you’re not ready to act upon it. As you honor it, you begin to connect more deeply with the intelligence that is encoded in the whisper of your Spirit. It begins with starting to say “Yes, I hear you” – without knowing how, without fully understanding. It already fully exists within you as potential.

This year, may we all say “Yes” to the fulfilment of our greatest and highest potential. May we say yes to purpose, meaning, joy and contribution. May we say yes to creating a life of sharing the love and the gifts that are within us with a world that needs it more than ever.

May we say yes to becoming the butterflies that we were all born to be.


Mansergh Kareem Griffith

Writer, teacher and transformational coach

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