Metamorphosis. How Does One become a Butterfly?
Metamorphosis. Photo by Thierry Nikolaeff @terydivng featuring Joanne Reed in the role of the Butterfly-mermaid. Dress by Nathalie Pezzotta-Davranche @latisanecouture. Ile de la Reunion.
Metamorphosis. How does one become a butterfly? The butterfly has one of the most fascinating life cycles of all creatures. It starts its life as an egg perched on a leaf. When the egg finally hatches, a caterpillar emerges from the egg. The whole raison d’être of the caterpillar is to eat as much as possible in order to reach its desired growth. During this stage, the caterpillar will outgrow and shed its skin as many as four or five times. As soon as the caterpillar is done growing and it has reached its full length and weight, it takes refuge into a cocoon, also known as the chrysalis, where it can safely rest and digest all the food that has been consumed in the previous stage.
Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly
Though the chrysalis appears unchanged from the outside, there is a dramatic transformation taking place inside, this process is called metamorphosis, whereby the body of the caterpillar is slowly dissolving to create a brand-new being. At last, in the final stage of its metamorphosis, the fully developed butterfly is ready to emerge from the chrysalis. The butterfly breaks free from the cocoon with wings that are folded and wet, so more rest time is necessary to allow blood to flow into the wings.
Finally, when the wings are fully dry, the butterfly is ready to take flight and share its beauty with the world. If we look closely at the process of the butterfly transformation from one state to another state, we see it is not an easy process. It takes time and each phase is necessary before the next stage can take place.
Metamorphosis. How does one become a butterfly?
From the confine of my Island (Ile de la Reunion), I had an amazing underwater photoshoot experience thanks to a scuba diver photographer by the name of Thierry Nikolaeff @terydiving and an amazing dressmaker by the name of Nathalie Pezzota-Davranche (@lartisanecouture. For a short moment in time, I felt like a butterfly who just came out of the Chrysalis; the result looks (literally) breath-taking but the process was far from easy. I was fairly nervous at the thought of doing those underwater photoshoots, because I have never done this before, and I didn’t know if I could pull it off. Being an island girl, swimming was something that I learned to do from a very young age; I have always been a good swimmer and I always felt comfortable in the water, but it took me a little while to understand the technicalities of posing for pictures underwater in an amazing dress, trying to look light, elegant, not out of breath and above all acting like a butterfly-mermaid who feels totally in her element being underwater. There are no tricks in these pictures just me, an amazing dress, and a scuba diver photographer.
What I learned during that experience of being a butterfly-mermaid is that, when you are ready to display your new you to the world, move forward with courage, while recognizing the fragility of your new wings and when things don’t work out the way you expected, best to let go of your expectation. It is natural for human beings to seek validation; we thrive on being seen and being appreciated for our work and effort. We all want to become a beautiful butterfly admired by the people around us and for the most ambitious admired by the whole world. But the reality is many of our endeavors will turn into tiny moths instead, and that’s OK. We have to resist the temptation to be driven only by the desire to create something grandiose and earth-shattering; it is OK to shoot for the stars, but if you don’t get there, it is also OK to be fully satisfied with whatever emerges from the chrysalis, for nature has a need for moths as well as beautiful butterflies.
Metamorphosis. What I learned being a butterfly for one day?
The butterfly is considered a wonder of nature, it symbolizes personal transformation, changes, rebirth, and the lightness of being. The butterfly as a spirit animal will remind you that life is a dance. You should not take things so seriously. Transformation and changes don’t have to be traumatic. They can be sweet and gentle, so you can accept them with grace and joy. I invite you to emulate the transformation process of the butterfly when you are working on your own transformation and growth.
The caterpillar stage.
In this stage of the butterfly’s life (which follows right after the hatching from an egg) the main task is consumption. For us, we can assimilate this stage with the stage of growth when we are consuming as much knowledge and training as we can about something new that we want to understand and master. This is the stage when we learn how to master our craft, and it is also the occasion for us to keep an open mind about how things were redone and shed old ideas, concepts, and habits that don’t work anymore. Sometimes we have to unlearn the things we learned and take the path less traveled by. This is often a stage of great excitement and energy as we enjoy the flow of creativity and inspiration it brings, but the learning process can also bring with it its fair share of hard work and loneliness. It is important that we do not rush through this stage and have the patience to go through the not-so-glamourous part of the learning process.
A house built on sand won’t last very long. In the olden days, if you wanted to enter a profession you had to find a master who will be willing to take you under his wings and enter into an apprenticeship to learn the craft. The normal length of an apprenticeship was 10 years; learning the craft required patience discipline and dedication. The modern concept of this is the 10,000 hours required to master a skill as described by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers.
“Anyone who would spend ten years absorbing the techniques and conventions of their field, trying them out, mastering them, exploring and personalizing them, would inevitably find their authentic voice and give birth to something unique and expressive. Embrace slowness as a virtue in itself.
We have a tendency to want to take the quickest, easiest path to our goals, we are impatient and want to see results quickly, but remember “there is no elevator to success. You have to take the stairs.” The best way to cultivate our natural impatience is to cultivate a kind of pleasure in pain — like an athlete, you come to enjoy rigorous practice, pushing past your limits, and resisting the easy way out.
The Chrysalis stage.
In this stage, the caterpillar takes refuge in a protective cocoon where it can safely rest and conduct its metamorphosis quietly and privately. Human beings tend to skip that stage or confuse it with a period of a downturn or treat it as a failure. In fact, this stage is a necessary stage where you should learn the art of being still. What does stillness mean? Stillness means to be steady while the world spins around you.
Socrates tells us that philosophy begins with wonder, and wonder is rooted in stillness. Other philosophers from various schools of thought have come to a similar conclusion, namely that the ultimate destination in our life is to master the stillness that is required to become masters of our own life. Stillness is an important tool on our journey to find clarity. The ability to see clearly not only when you are meditating but in the midst of conflict when you are frustrated, angry or scared, will help you find a more logical, less emotional response and give you choices to do things different of do nothing at all.
In your own journey to become a butterfly, don’t forget that the process is never easy and requires much patience, and remember …
Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly
And this my dear friend, is your quest.
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