transformation. part three.

Is the end of the cocoon like the falling off of a scab? Wanting to be healed, pulling off a scab before the skin underneath is strong re-injures, re-reddens the skin underneath, flaming it back into the need for another growing temporary tough covering. Does the cocoon fall away when the butterfly becomes bigger than the place that holds her?

When I was teaching young children, back in the days of gathering sticks and leaves into small hands, bandaids keeping small hurts together, I purchased a butterfly kit, a small caterpillar that would morph before our eyes.

The caterpillar ate the leaves we gave it, moving in little circles in the sphere it was kept in. The cocoon was woven in slow time lapse, shifting without us noticing, coming back from being in our own homes, there would be another layer of change we hadn’t noticed the day before. The time came for the butterfly to emerge, we saw its wings inch out toward the light coming in from hand-printed windows, and then, nothing. It stopped partway out from the dim interior of its den, and died.

I didn’t know what stopped the final push into new, higher territory, what ceased the struggle to break out of the mummified, turning chamber that held its dissolution into wings I could see, wings never used.

I wonder if the closed plastic case was part of the reason, if reaching out past the caterpillar life into more of the same stopped whatever alchemy was happening. I wonder if I would have opened that closed jar in a nearby shaded tree, with fruit and wind and spiraling seeds, would the new life have burst out easier, the forward joy reason enough to break out, fully formed?

Or did it happen too soon, the wings underneath the scabbed cocoon not strong enough, injured in its trying to be free of the very house that was growing it strong enough to leave?

Healing is a process, unhurried, methodical and painful in its slowness. There is a trust built in, once you have been through this transformation a time or two, that life folds and unfolds like a clean sheet pulled from a sun-warm line. You will know when the time comes to leave what you have been healing under, because it will fall off when it is no longer needed.

When the sky is its own shade of blue, and the nearby leaves dance in a wind made just to carry you, you will reach up and realize you have shifted without noticing.

transformation. part two.

“It is impossible for you to go on as you were before, so you must go on as you never have.”

Cheryl Strayed

I wonder what the first thing a caterpillar does when it winds it’s last sinuous thread, closing its senses off to the world of leaves and rain and birds looking for crawling things. I would imagine it exhales, once, twice. Its body no longer inching toward the next thing, does it know that if it rests it can never be the same?

I believed that the period of time I was feeling burned out, dried up, and spent, was part of the trying of a caterpillar life, but now I see, it was part of the dissolution of that life. We live in a world of trying, a circled, spinning, kaleidoscope of new books, videos and quotes to pull us to the next level, a culture of self-care striving, believing that taking measures to feel better will bring you back to when you felt something.

We want to feel the way we did when we hoped what we learned through myths and legend was true. There was a list somewhere, one naughty, one nice, and if we worked really hard we would earn gifts on a snow melted brown morning instead of coal. No one we knew actually ever got coal, but it was possible—the story powerful in its threat of not getting what we wanted, what we asked for, after twelve months of being watched by a man in a different shaded and felted red suit each year, depending on where you saw him.

This myth of earning beautiful things nearly ruined me. And yet, it was part of the necessary giving up; the exhale, once, twice. Right after I wound a last sinuous thread, a many months long respite from the noise of living. It began with signing out of all social media, stopping the news, no more magazines, or documentaries of unsolved murders and pretend tragedies, acted and scored to create danger, suspense and the locking of doors and windows against what might be out there.

I stopped shopping, for 40 days and 40 nights, the cease fire of credit cards and online wallets biblical in proportion. There was no more seeking the next color and shape of clothing to cover me from rain and wind, I wanted a new way to feel hooded and veiled. I wanted to be quiet, silent, warm.

I put my phone down, and then walked away from it. I silenced the ringer, changed the settings to not show the numbers of comments unanswered, and I remembered what it felt like to be unreachable.

And then, in this unreachable state, I rested—not knowing that I would never be the same.

(to be continued)

holding.

“Letting go is a death to holding on.”

Adyashanti

When we have stayed still longer than is comfortable, when the chafe of life wears a ringing in our ears from listening too hard, too focused. When we have sat on our hands instead of deciding, as if the decision is out there, something external pulling it into existence, always a few steps ahead, the carrot chase of it a constant question. When we have asked and asked, when will it be time, the answer is, ‘when you let go’.

Letting go let’s go of the one who holds on. The one who tries one more way, studies one more skill, thinks about how to work this better, figure it out, succeed. It’s letting go of the one who talks it out, who brings it to trusted friends and mentors, who thinks that hanging on means being there when the secret is revealed, the thing that solves it all.

Here is the secret; move when life moves you, stop listening to anything except the song singing you forward. Stand up. Know it is not out there, it is right here, and the time is when you say it is.

We have never wanted to go to bed before the show ends, we want to see how it turns out. We have believed the show is being written for us, a cliffhanger of what is coming, and we don’t want to miss it, as if the prize only given to those in attendance.

To chase the carrot on the end of the illusory stick, to wait for an ending written by another storyteller, is to be forever focused on something that does not belong to you. It was never yours, it was just trying to get you to live poised and hungry.

Letting go gives you hands free to till and plant and harvest, to be green from pulling weeds, not white from holding still.

letting go.

I wondered what did it mean to let go. I have saved endless quotes about releasing, leaving alone, detaching and letting go of everything that weighs us. But still, I didn’t know how. The things I sought, the tense ache of togetherness and the shrugging shoulder of independence fought a cloudy war that had no truce.

To let go meant to do what, to let go of what? The hope of the battle being won, that the bait worked, the trophy displayed for my eyes only, eyes that kept looking away to the next thing to fight?

To let go of the end of the suffering string I had to wind my way back to the place I was holding it. And that wasn’t the same thing at all. Where I held it and where I saw it were so different, that’s why I couldn’t solve the riddle of how to let go of one end of it, the other end held shadowy taut in my small sticky hand.

We drove to the next house I lived, my mother, my siblings and I, just across town. Another place I was too young to remember, this time a bigger yard, a clean street, a moving up so evident and tidy.

I was born the last of the pack, the fifth child to parents that wanted four, the last evidence of unplanned things. Once I was there I was loved.

Love. The word I took with me when I left the place I was born led to releasing the dark end of the string of being unwanted.

Letting go, I learned, was going back to the first story I heard, to let go of the version of the people I kept there, puppet like and swaying in the strain of their sameness.

Letting go was going back to see they weren’t there anymore, and to see proof that the ghosts of them haunted me with my agreement and my attention.

Letting go meant to drive away without them, leaving the stone of who I was now, to replace the stone of who I used to be, when I believed a story so old the ash of it scattered in the wake of the car we drove away in, laughing.