I've been loving the unexpected number of butterflies flitting through our gardens and skies this year. Post-monsoon flowering shrubs and plants are absolutely shivering with butterfly activity. Such an amazing sight. Makes me wonder why some people squirm at the sight of caterpillars and resent every bite taken out of their plants, but then are thrilled by the colors and beauty of the butterflies in their gardens. A major disconnect in their thinking wouldn’t you say? We humans seem to excel at mental disconnects
My mind couldn't help been tumbling and turning with the butterflies. Watching them I had to wonder whether butterflies remember being caterpillars? Are they consciously celebrating their newfound freedom of flight as they dive and zoom around the garden? If they don’t remember their previous incarnation, that means they are living joyously free of identity baggage? Don’t you wish that applied to us? Butterflies, consciously or not, are the ultimate, self-reinvention success story.
How many people do you know, women especially, who talk about re-inventing themselves, some repeatedly? We all do it to a certain extend. Haven’t you said, at least once, “I’m not the person I used to be?” We change, we grow, we shed our old selves, and go forth and prosper with a new outlook, identity, and sometimes an up-graded exterior. But, based on the number of women I know who are taking anti-depressants and/or talking to analysts, no one seems to truly shut the door on their old selves. We re-invent, and yet still see the old us every time we stand too long in front of a mirror. There she is, hiding behind our eyes, standing in judgement on the new us every minute of every day.
We like to just shut our eyes to our reflections and blunder forward. We drink too many cocktails and post too many memes expounding on the virtues of self-love, being kind, and unconditional personal acceptance. Who are we trying to convince? We go on ad infinitum about what strong women we are, while taking even the slightest criticism to heart, and creeping away to self-flagellate and analyze every perceived, hurtful word. Or, we flaunt our defiance and dye our hair purple to prove our point, while loudly proclaiming how we don’t care what anyone thinks; we are above having to answer to anyone but ourselves. I tend not to buy into that. Goes against human nature.
If we stop judging others, maybe we can stop judging ourselves...maybe. The butterflies were all crawling, munching caterpillars not too long ago, but you don't see them looking back or judging each others newly created patterns and colors. But then...a butterfly doesn't need depth of character to be a successful butterfly, does it? As for us, what we see/show on the surface doesn't even hint at the wealth of humanity underneath. With us, as glamorous as we might try to be on the outside, it's what's inside that matters the most.
We unintentionally reinvent ourselves internally every day. Every bit of new data we absorb affects us, changes us, and revises our perception, even if ever so slightly. However, when we intentionally revise our life plan and/or outlook based on new information (joining a religion, leaving a religion, becoming a vegan, changing political views, leaving a job, moving to Bulgaria, or dropping mucho weight) the fallout can include losing friends and acquaintances, who either won’t understand or accept our metamorphosis. Some will even become resentful if we change from who they need or expect us to be. “Oh…you’ve changed so much!” (like that’s a bad thing?) Think co-dependence and “misery loves company.”
Like our butterfly friends, we each must follow our own flight paths, no matter how dizzying they might be to others, and in spite of judgements. If we don’t grow, we stagnate, and who wants to simulate a skanky swamp? So accept the inevitable process and celebrate change, and if your re-working brings you peace and joy, spread your wings and soar on the currents. Life is too short to do otherwise. Just ask the next butterfly you meet.
Lynn Nicholas - AUTHOR oF Dancing Between The Beats
My blog is a window into my world. My slice-of-life narratives are triggered by life's