I feel like a butterfly…

July 26, 2008 § Leave a comment


I feel like a butterfly…or rather a caterpillar growing into a butterfly.

I remember in 5th grade, in Ms. O’Neal’s class, we watched caterpillars grow into butterflies. We got them in one of those kits that you order and had them in a glass case with branches and everything. I don’t remember all of the details of the project but I do remember learning about the way caterpillars grow into butterflies, the way they are wrapped in a cocoon and slowly, over time, grow within that cocoon and when it is spring time, they begin to slowly break out of and unfold out of the cocoon. I remember this and although I didn’t like the fact that butterflies were bugs (lol), I do remember how beautiful they looked as they unfolded out of their cocoon.

What I wonder now, remembering those images from the 5th grade, is whether or not the caterpillar felt tight or as if it was hard to breathe just before it begin to break out of its cocoon? I wonder if the butterfly ever felt a heaviness on its chest as it was pushing against the inner walls of the cocoon? I wonder if the butterfly was worried about how it would feel, look, and be on the other side of the cocoon?

I just read something from Pema Chödrön (formerly known as Deirdre Blomfield-Brown) who is an ordained Buddhist nun who says the goal of her work is the ability to apply Buddhist teachings in everyday life. I read an interview she had with Oprah Winfrey in which she was describing to Oprah that people, when they are presented with pain/uncomfortable feelings, that instead of running from the feelings, instead of just trying to turn to something happier or sunnier, people should stay with the experience.

Pema says that one should stay with the tightness in the throat, the heaviness on the chest or in the stomach and remind oneself that there are millions of people all over the world with this discomfort, this fear, this feeling of not wanting things to be as they currently are — or you can just breathe deeply during these feelings and stay with yourself through this experience. She says that if you run from the feelings, you will cut yourself off from compassion and empathy for others and will begin or continue a chain reaction in which you feel isolated and you strike out and hurt others if not just yourself.

I don’t know why I happened upon this old article and decided to read it, but I am glad I did. And I think I just answered my previous questions regarding the butterfly. It doesn’t matter whether or not the butterfly feels a tightness of the chest, difficulty breathing, or just worry about what is on the other side — the fact of the matter is that the butterfly understands that it must come out on the other side in order to continue living. It has no choice…

I am gonna be like the butterfly…I am staying with the experience and whatever other experiences come my way…and I no longer hope to come out on the other side in one piece….I know I will.

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