Posted by: Postordinandy | March 13, 2015



One of the most impressive transformations in nature is that of the caterpillar to the butterfly:

A time-lapse video of a Monarch caterpillar undergoing this change.


The life-cycle of the caterpillar/butterfly is fascinating. After a short life – essentially as an eating machine – the caterpillar gets ready.

In the words of Eric Carle, (he)

vhcc  “builds a small house, called a cocoon, around himself. He stays inside for more than two weeks. The he nibbles a hole in the cocoon, pushes his way out and…”

vhcb…becomes a beautiful butterfly.

vhc  But as pretty as Eric Carle paints this process, this change is radical and costly to the caterpillar.

The Monarch butterfly can complete its’ life-cycle in as little as 28 days. The caterpillar exists for around 10 of these, spends another 10 or so as a chrysalis, and then around a week maturing enough to lay eggs. They then live for another month or so.

Imagine that.

Translated into human years (the average life expectancy in the UK is around 80 years), that would mean 25 years as a caterpillar, another 25 as a chrysalis, and then just over 30 as a butterfly…

25 years getting ready for change, 25 years of change, and 30 years to enjoy the fruits of that change.

The chrysalis stage is fascinating. Once secured in the cocoon, the caterpillar releases enzymes that break down many of its tissues into their constituent proteins. Textbooks will commonly talk about the insect dissolving into a kind of “soup”, but that’s not entirely accurate – some organs stay intact.

Other organs, for example muscles, break down into clumps of cells that can be re-used, like a Lego sculpture decomposing into bricks. And some cells create imaginal discs—structures that produce adult body parts. There’s a pair for the antennae, a pair for the eyes, one for each leg and wing, and so on.

So if the pupa does contain a soup, it’s like a thick broth full of chunky bits.

Change is costly, messy, and takes time.

Those of us who are educators or parents are privileged to be able to facilitate some of the key changes in the life of a young person. We can help them understand the process, steer them in positive directions, give them the tools to achieve the changes they want.

But we can’t speed this up, we can’t make it neat and tidy, and we can’t make it easy.

This is also true in your own life.

We are always undergoing a period of change. Like the caterpillar, we have times in our lives dedicated to gathering the resources for that change, and times when everything feels like it is being de-constructed within us.

hat are you transforming into?

We have a degree of control over the changes in our lives. Some things happen to us, others happen because of us.

The next decision, the next step, that is the most important one you will make.

Become a beautiful butterfly – but give yourself time and grace to get there.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: