Life Lessons From A Butterfly
Whenever I see a butterfly flitting past my window, or following me for a little ways while I’m out walking, I’m filled with a burst of incredible joy. Most of the time, I simply run with it, allowing the joyous creature to lift my spirits, soaring to the treetops along with those colorful wings, needing no reason or purpose for the euphoria.
But as the analytical side of me kicks in, I have to ask what makes the butterfly flit through the treetops above my head with such joyful abandon. Then again, wouldn’t you be filled with joy after making the miraculous transition from a caterpillar crawling on ground, plants, and trees, to a winged one limited only by how far those wings might carry you? Wouldn’t you revel in the weight you shed after emerging from your homemade shell; after going from worm, to goo, to butterfly?
In a way, the butterfly has shed excess weight and earthly constraints during its transition until what’s left is an entirely new world; an expansive new life where the sky is literally the limit. How can a mere human possibly understand the joy of releasing anything that held them back from soaring as high as they wanted? The truth is, we can shed our own constraints, but like the butterfly, it involves what may, at times feel like trauma, upheaval, and intense pain.
Transformation Isn’t Without Pain
Often, the transition is brought about by circumstances, even if, like me, you take a few years to figure it out, clinging to your old ways like the lifeline they aren’t. Perhaps you become inured to life’s endless series of small traumas at a young age because your family taught you to only allow your strong exterior to show, hiding your fears, feelings, and broken parts behind masks and walls so no one could make the cracks in your foundation any larger.
One of the toughest, most painful things I ever experienced was allowing myself to turn to a puddle of goo behind those walls, and to let the walls dissolve into the goo, exposing the weak, broken creature who crouched beneath the surface. Devoid of protections decades, and even generations in the making, I lacked the courage or knowledge to be the imperfect person who was left when the walls and masks dissolved, leaving me naked, exposed, and terrified.
Yet somehow, like the butterfly, I emerged from the transformation taking tiny steps while the goo reformed and my wings dried. Old paradigms and rules no longer applied. I had to learn to love and accept myself, traumas and all. In some ways, it was like learning how to walk again after a major accident.
The first few steps hurt like hell, and I felt utterly unsupported. After awhile, I realized my raw, exposed self attracted people who were loving and compassionate, and ready to help me adjust to my new form. People who, themselves had weathered their own traumas, and transitioned into their own butterfly selves.
Taking the First Steps and Leaps Alone
Like the butterfly, I neither wanted nor needed help while I shed what no longer served me. I did, and still do need support while I learn, grow, and jettison everything I’d stashed away behind the now-dissolved walls. I may have ditched the protections in a few gigantic, and not always self-propelled leaps, but what I’d stashed behind those protections needed to be peeled away carefully, layer by layer. That process would have been impossible without the help of people who could understand, or at least empathize.
With each layer I peel away, my wings become stronger and brighter, and I soar higher. I am dragging less weight behind me so those wings don’t have to work so hard to keep me aloft. I’m learning I spent a large part of my lifetime telling myself stories built from lies, when I was meant to tell stories woven from my truths, not only to myself, but to anyone who cared to listen.
In another time, I might have been a bard, drifting from town to town weaving tales colored by my experiences, or from my observations of human nature. I’d have spent endless days unobtrusively watching and listening so I could add character and substance to my tales. Watching a butterfly might take up an entire afternoon as I tried to imagine myself making random spirals through the air, then tracing back to my stay in the chrysalis, and my tenure as a caterpillar crawling on a leaf, munching placidly with no idea what I was to become.
In my mind, I’d become one with the butterfly, perhaps weaving a tale to be told to a group of children about the wonder of growing up to spread my wings and fly. Through my words, their awe-filled faces would reflect their own imaginations whirling with possibilities as I painted a picture of freedom, and perhaps in some, a desire to be more than fate and current circumstances decreed.
Realizing Your Potential
The truth is, we are all caterpillars with the potential to become butterflies, but we have to be willing to take some gigantic leaps of faith, and more, to refuse to let faith and trauma define us. The choices I’ve made, and the transformations I’ve experienced are an option for anyone. Some may have less to shed before emerging, while others like me may have several generations worth. Quantity and depth don’t really matter. The first leap or ten are tough no matter what. It’s all about leaving your comfort zone, and most of us are hard-wired to stay there.
The ones like me who ultimately leave experience an internal struggle between the safety and sameness of the comfort zone, and the rut that sameness creates. There’s a need for change, even if, at first, it seems like it’s only for the sake of change. In reality, there’s a need to grow beyond the walls that encase you, and to explore what’s outside those walls, even knowing you’ll get knocked down a few times in the process. What’s a little pain compared to being stuck in the same boring place for eternity? To being a caterpillar who never realizes its potential to be a butterfly?
Grateful for Opportunities to Transform
My gratitudes today are:
- I’m grateful for the transitions I’ve made, the people who support me, and the adventures yet to come.
- I’m grateful for the time I have to simply observe and reflect.
- I’m grateful for a world that continues to be filled with opportunities, if you know where to look, and how to sit quietly at times and watch the subtle changes.
- I’m grateful for an adventurous spirit that’s willing to put myself out there and take a few risks.
- I’m grateful for abundance; vulnerability, joy, transformation, growth, adventure, calculated risk, friendship, compassion, kindness, peace, balance, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.
Love and Light
About the Author
Sheri Conaway is a Holistic Ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income.
If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward