Butterflies always stop me in my tracks. Such beauty! Lightness! Joy! Happy wings dancing from flower to flower. Floating leisurely across the yard. Fluttering. Hovering. No hurry. No deadlines. No schedules. Kicking back enjoying the sunshine.

Enchanted, I watch as one dances around my yard. Not like a bee, all business and busyness. An unhurried, light-hearted, enjoying the day dance.

The thing about the butterfly is that I am so present with it. I give no thought to where it’s going or where it came from. And yet it had an incredibly different previous life. It didn’t just pop fully-formed to treat me to this unconcerned display of pleasure.

But, hey! What about the caterpillar? I give no thought or credit to the caterpillar. The whole thing is incredulous. How can a homely, lowly creature such as a caterpillar transform into this thing of beauty that turns my head every time? It doesn’t matter how many butterflies I’ve seen. I always pay attention. A caterpillar? Not so much.

We humans have our transitions. Losing teeth, growing new ones. Shooting up like beanstalks overnight. Filling out in sensual curves. But this thing with the butterfly is not a mere transition from an earlier version. It’s a complete transformation. There is nothing of the caterpillar to be seen in the butterfly. And yet without the caterpillar, the butterfly would not be.

And you, my friend. You. The one I put on a pedestal. I see who you are and it’s intriguing. Did you pop fully formed? Or was there a caterpillar stage? Tell me, please, your caterpillar story. Tell me how you came to be the magnificent creature you are.

When a butterfly emerges from its chrysalis, it waits patiently for its wings to dry. It knows when to begin the celebration dance. If some helpful-unhelpful two-legged creature reaches out to help free the butterfly from its last strands of cocoon, it will never fly. It needs the task of breaking through on its own. How do I know when to help and when helping is not helping? Tell me, please, your caterpillar story. What did you do to emerge?

And back to the caterpillar. Does the caterpillar, in its caterpillar life, long to be a butterfly? Does it look up and see the magnificent creature and say one day, I, too? But no. I don’t think so. The caterpillar has too much to do. It keeps its head down, concentrating on its task – eating and eating to nourish its transformation. It doesn’t have time to look up and dream. Maybe it knows that each little step it takes, each little mouthful it eats is how the butterfly comes to be. One would not happen without the other.

Maya Angelou said: We delight in the beauty of the butterfly but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.

Not just the butterfly. As I see artwork I love, books I treasure, accomplished musicians, I jump to my longing. I wish I could do that! I delight in the beauty of the butterfly and seem to be able to ignore the caterpillar. Did these things, these people pop fully formed into being? Yes, it’s easy for me to give no credit to the caterpillar. I don’t want to do the caterpillar work. I just want the dance of the butterfly.

Tell me, please, your caterpillar story.
The work. The stages. The effort. The chrysalis.

Tell me, please, your caterpillar story.
So I might know how you came to be.