Just when the caterpillar thought it's world was over, it became a butterfly

June 14, 2018

So why does the caterpillar become a butterfly? I remember watching lots of David Attenborough docos as a kid and my two questions were always “how and why?” How does that young antelope know to run from a lion when it’s never seen one before? Why do so many of the babies have to die young?


Simple answer
Evolution and survival. Animals have evolved to survive and these traits are passed on to the next generation (excuse me while I keep this simple but it is a Sunday while I write this).

Even though it’s simple, it’s still mind blowing. I mean, we all know what’s going to happen to the caterpillar when it goes into its chrysalis (butterfly experts across the world must have been spewing when The Very Hungry Caterpillar came out and called it a cocoon). But the caterpillar doesn’t know. It’s spent its life munching away quite contently on one species of plant (for the majority of caterpillars anyway). Either they’re very fussy eaters or just way to afraid of change or maybe it just works for them. Then for some reason the caterpillar builds a chrysalis (if that’s what they call it) and disappears into the dark and unknown to experience who knows what, for who knows how long and for who knows why.

Dark and unknown
I can’t speak for the caterpillar, only myself, so I’m going to say that when I disappeared into the dark and unknown to experience who knew what, for who knew how long and for who knew why it was a scary, lonely, frightening and alarming place. At least the caterpillar had a David Attenborough doco it could watch to find out what it was going to happen to it. All it had to do was leave it’s same old, same old leaves and crawl up to my family room window for a sneak peek.

Although this would have been the ultimate spoiler I’m guessing it still wouldn’t have really helped the caterpillar. Think about it. When someone says to you “you’re just going through that figuring it out stage.” Or “don’t worry you’ll pull through”. Even though they have good intentions does this really help you? No. That’s because it’s a process that you, me and the caterpillar have to go through. A butterfly going up to a caterpillar and showing off it’s wings isn’t going to help the caterpillar become a butterfly. The caterpillar has to physically transform and grow wings itself.

How to survive
Luckily humans are animals (it’s still Sunday) so we have a bunch of traits that instinctively help us survive and get through this process. Look back at those times when you thought you couldn’t do something and you did. Got one? Ok even thought it's Sunday I'm feeling generous so I’ll help you out. Some simple examples (remember it’s still Sunday) are riding a bike, spelling a word, putting together a bit of furniture, climbing a tree. I’ll add in some bigger examples (now it’s Tuesday); having a kid, driving a car, saving money to afford something big, travelling alone, getting a job you thought was out of your league.

Operating the wings
You’ve probably realised that even once you got these things you still had to keep figuring things out. I can’t read everyone’s mind to know what experiences you’ve all come up with (my powers aren’t that amazing), so I’ll stick with the caterpillar story. It comes out of the chrysalis, looks around and discovers these amazing, bright, colourful things sticking out of its back but it can’t find the instruction manual to operate these vital, exciting and fun survival features. Then a storm suddenly hits. The caterpillar, I mean butterfly, has to figure out what to do in rain and crazy wind. You get the picture. It has to keep figuring things out as it goes along; even though it's at the next stage.

What's the point?
So what’s the point of all of this? It doesn’t matter what day of the week it is I can’t tell you what the purpose of your life is. It all comes down to what you want to get out of life. What are you going to do now that you’re looking around and staring at those amazing, bright, colourful things?  It’s time to instinctively figure that out.

P.S. Apologies for the poor lighting with the photo. It was the best photo I could get while having my phone balanced on a stool which was balanced on the TV unit.

 

Something to think about...

 

"“Life is not about how you survive the storm,it's about learning to dance in the rain."

Taylor Swift

Pop Singer-Songwriter

 

 

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