trust yourself to the water
To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float. – Alan Watts
Everyone knows that caterpillars and butterflies are the same creature. The caterpillar starts out as a cute little wormy fuzzbug, squinching around the garden on her little legs, being adorable, tooling around snacking on leaves and green things. Hanging in the safety of the garden, nibbling up all the goods she can find. The caterpillar has no idea she’s ever going to be anything other than a caterpillar. The one day, she gets a shot through the heart from the universal life force, and realizes something big is about to happen. She has a job to do. A nest to build. She has an imperative to stop caterpillaring and go into hiding. She builds a chrysalis, and snuggles up inside it, and waits. The whole biological process of this is magical in itself, but the real beauty and transformation happens outside public view. For the longest time, I assumed the caterpillar had a butterfly suit all tucked up in her accordion bustle, her legs came out, she shed some stuff and unveiled some other stuff and poof: butterfly.
This is not the case.
I know this about how butterflies are made, and about how humans realize their own authentic potential through radical transformative change. I’ve been in my own chrysalis for over a year. I woke up inside myself and couldn’t keep going the way things were. I had an imperative. I didn’t know what it was, but I knew I had to change. I had to change drastically, all at once, down to the core. I had to unpack and unburden and go into the light that I could see inside myself. I started with my career, and began shedding the parts of my life that no longer served me. I downsized and let go of things. Of people. Of a way of life that didn’t feel like home to me. I wasn’t sure what the end result was going to be. I sacrificed and struggled. I cried and cursed myself for leaving the safety of my old life for this unknown new version of myself. But, like the caterpillar, I couldn’t do anything else. I weathered some storms, stuck to my little leaf, and went into exile.
To my amazement, I learned that when caterpillars go inside their chrysalis, the begin to dissolve totally. This is the metamorphosis. They melt into a pile of goo and DNA and cells. There’s no secret set of wings already built. There’s gooey possibility. And waiting. Time and science and nature and process. That’s what it’s like when you decide to grow into who you really are. So many stories of transformation gloss over the hard parts. The uncertainty, the isolation, and the complete surrender to unknowing. It can be a very lonely, scary place to be. What caterpillar would ever believe they were destined to become a butterfly? It’s hard to imagine when you start what the end result could be. Sometimes it feels impossible and hopeless, but much like being lost in a forest, you know you have to keep going. Just keep going. Keep breathing. Keep focusing on the light and accepting the darkness. Make it smaller and more manageable. You do your best to accept that sometimes life leaves you stuck and helpless and it feels endless. Like no set of actions could ever lead you out of the abyss. When all you have is yourself, you can either embrace that and treat yourself with compassion and love, or you can fight. When you fight yourself, you always end up losing. But when you embrace yourself fully, you win. Just by doing that one thing.
Butterflies aren’t meant to stay caterpillars. They are meant to fly.
I’m not into religion, and when the word faith starts to come into play, that’s what comes to mind. But I believe in having faith in myself. I’ve reached a point where the chrysalis is cracking open and the light is starting to shine through. The time of waiting is coming to a close, and all the work I did in the goo, however invisible to me in the dark, has transformed me. Suddenly, I’m becoming aware that I have a set of iridescent wings, new eyes, and sensors, and legs, and a sense of hope that I may be about to embark on the next incarnation of my being. This too, is terrifying as shit. We humans have an inherent nature about us that desperately wants to grasp on. To hold and fight the change, even when it is for our own good and will deliver us into a new way of being in the world filled with joy, contentment, satisfaction, and love. We are scared of change. We get used to our darkness, and our cozy little cave of goo. We don’t want to let go. We want to know exactly what we are getting our gooey asses into. And that is something that we can never have.
What I do know is this: In order to be fully realized as a human being, you cannot hold on. You cannot be afraid of the changes that are coming. You cannot be afraid to open your giant, majestic wings, and fly, even when you don’t know how. Especially when you don’t know how. There are no guarantees but that things will change. There are no promises that it will all turn out how you hope. But if you know yourself, and you believe in yourself and your own intrinsic worth, if you intuitively listen when the life force speaks to you and through you, you can never fail. When you open yourself fully to your own authenticity, you will only become more powerful, more beautiful, and more visible to the people in the world you need around you. And they will show up and see you and they will be big enough. And you just might find that when you alight for the first time, you do know how to fly. You have always known how. So fucking relax, babe, and spread those glorious butterfly wings and soar toward everything you have ever wanted. Because you can have it all. Everything you ever wanted is possible. It is real. It is now. So let go. Believe it. Trust yourself to the water. And fly.