Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly. ~ author unknown
A butterfly is born.
What does a butterfly feel when she emerges from her chrysalis and unfurls her wet wings?
Does she feel an intuitive urge to let go of her hold on a leaf? Doesn’t she fear she will fall, or fear her death? How does she know her wings will carry her?
Is it courage that spreads her wings, guiding her to her first flight, or is it simply a knowing–a wisdom she gained through the pain of her metamorphosis–that she can now fly?
How does she feel as she experiences the new sensation of her being? Moving her new wings, experiencing her new proboscis?
Her life prior to a grande metamorphosis was ten days of feasting, consuming–attempts at satiating her urgent hunger. Growing larger, greater, expanding, shedding her skin four times to accommodate her rapidly expanding body: exploring, testing, tasting the world, knowing and imposing no self-restraint or judgment of herself and her quest for more, more, more.
What happens to her self-perception as she enters into the chrysalis stage? Does she wonder in her own butterfly way, “What the hell is happening to me?”
Does she feel pain as her physical being endures ten days of liquefaction and reorganizing of itself? Does she wish her life would cease, or that the truth behind her suffering would hurry up and reveal? Or does she somehow know that a greater meaning and a greater being shall be her reward, if she can just hold on and trust … just a little longer?
Biologically her entire body is encased in a pupa of her own creation; a chrysalis–an exoskeleton. Inside the brittle exterior, her body completely liquefies, leaving in tact only the imaginal buds that for the caterpillar stage of her existence were completely dormant, existing deep inside her caterpillar body as a genetic secret.
Her imaginal buds immediately go to work redesigning her body, reshaping each cell to become the new, transformed, lighter version of herself: a soon-to-be butterfly. The last part of her body to liquefy is her brain. The imaginal cells use every drop of liquid to generate the colors of her wings, her abdomen, her new antennae, legs and reproductive parts.
When her physical transformation is complete, she emerges from her chrysalis, and expels a black tarry substance called meconium from her body, alike a newborn human baby shortly after birth.
She opens her wings and after they have dried, she gently flaps them and walks about the leaf she had previously experienced as a caterpillar. She takes a leap of faith and releases her hold and flaps her wings to begin her first flight as a butterfly.
This flight begins a courtship dance. She will mate with the first of her kind she encounters.
The rest of her life–about 2-3 weeks–she will assist many of the plants she had eaten previously as a caterpillar: she will flit from flower to flower, carrying pollen and promoting cross-pollination. She will procreate and lay eggs, propagating and perpetuating the life cycle of plants and future caterpillars, ensuring future caterpillars’ trans formative journeys.
(This essay was written about common butterflies whose entire lives are experienced in about one month. Monarch butterflies can live up to nine months.)
happy ray reflection by becky jaine
the beautiful Monarch video by kate purzycki thank you and joy to (((Kate)))
photos by moi, Spring in my garden.