When its time arrives, the caterpillar moves to a distant branch and begins to spin its cocoon. The cocoon is the safe haven for the caterpillar to undergo the process of metamorphosis. Once the cocoon is completed, the caterpillar doesn’t just change like a tadpole becomes a frog – reabsorbing its tail and growing its legs. No. The caterpillar must undergo a complete meltdown. The entire caterpillar literally dissolves into a mass of cells – a liquid goop. Once the meltdown is complete, certain specific cells, called imago cells, which contain the “image” of the future butterfly, begin to differentiate and organize the goop into an entirely new life form, a new structure – the butterfly! Once this process is completed, the butterfly must now emerge from the cocoon. To do this, it must create an opening so that it can wriggle out of the cocoon. Interestingly enough, the longer the struggle to emerge from the cocoon, the longer the butterfly will live. After the butterfly has emerged, it must gently open its wings and dry them out. Then it is ready to fly!

For us as human beings, we can potentially go through several “metamorphoses” in our lifetime. The process is just like that of the caterpillar becoming a butterfly. Once our “time” has come where we begin to recognize that our lives need to radically change, we begin to separate ourselves so that we can create our “cocoon” – our safe haven. We may even have several of them. This is where we can allow ourselves to experience our “meltdowns” and get to “nothing.” We become essentially unrecognizable, even to ourselves. Once this happens, we can then begin to identify the image of what we wish to emerge as – a new life form – a complete transformation! We then begin the work of constructing ourselves consistently with this new image. But, we still need to emerge! And this is the struggle. If we stay focused and endure, then we can truly fly and endure as a new butterfly – a new life!

Ruben J Guzman, MPH 2008