I used to be a pretty good caterpillar

by Sarah

I listened to this episode of Radiolab where they explored what actually goes on in a cocoon.  A caterpillar enters; a butterfly or moth emerges.  And in the meantime, the in between time, the being is neither a caterpillar nor a butterfly but a sort of goo.  Certain things last through the period of change–caterpillars that were taught to react to a loud noise grow into butterflies that also react. Certain baby-butterfly structures, like little wing-lets, grow in the caterpillar, and those don’t dissolve when the rest of the animal does.  But most things fall away, fall apart.  And the next things, the butterfly things, don’t grow in for awhile.

Sometimes I feel that I am this goo–neither caterpillar nor butterfly–but a shapeless being, an unsure being, not knowing of what form I’ll take next or how I’ll get there.  Our tiny house feels gooey to me sometimes.  So does my work. And where we’ll live.

I look back on times in my life when I think I had it more together, and I want that again.  I want to know who I am and what I do.  The thing about being a pretty good caterpillar, though, or even a very good one, is that you have to change.  And change is messy.

So what to do, when you’re goo?  Here are three things.

1.  Stay the Course
We said we were going to build this tiny house and we are going to build this tiny house!  Committed.  To the house.  And to doing the house now, and not doing the next thing until next time.

2.  Try some continuity from day to day, from week to week
For me, not having a schedule feels like freedom–oh!  I can do whatever I want! I’m free!  But I know that’s not so.  I know I end up mulling over what to do next, agonizing over if I’ve chosen the right thing.  I know that a schedule offers some bones, some structure.

3.  Be soft
I am soft, goo is soft, this is all very soft.  As often as I remember to, I remember to be soft, to be patient, to be accepting.  This is how I am right now.  This is how my life is right now.  I’m not that sturdy, robust, energetic little caterpillar that I was.  I don’t know what I’ll be next, or when.  But in the meantime, the in between time–which might be all time!–what about practicing softness, kindness, and not forcing?  It’s hard to be soft.  But I think it’s the thing to try towards.

Is anyone else goo-full (goo-ti-ful perhaps?) these days? Are you doing anything (or not doing anything?) that helps you withstand the transformation?


10 thoughts on “I used to be a pretty good caterpillar

  1. Try thinking of it as goo(d). In other words, a goo stage of life is a good stage of life. It requires faith in process, however, and being with groundlessness — although that’s fancy language for what often may feel like sloshing around in a water-filled underground cave with a very small flashlight and a PBJ sandwich and weird rustling and shrieking noises coming out of the darkness. Unnerving. Gooey. Goo(d)ey!

    1. It can be difficult to be goo. Society does not approve or understand. We are supposed to have crisp boundaries, and be productive, to know who we are and what we stand for. That’s why it’s such good practice to just relax into being a mochi cake in a frying pan, slowly losing our beautiful round shape and beginning to spread outward asymmetrically, turning into…. sticky rice cake goo. Delicious!

      1. Yes, society does not approve… and my internalized society-self does not approve either.. I love this image of a mochi cake, though, losing it’s sturdy, round, toughness – yum!

      2. I’m trying to put a positive re-frame on goo. Always thought that eating Japanese mochi, well cooked, is kind of like eating Elmer’s Glue. I love it. 🙂 Imaginal mochi!

  2. I am so gooey, Sarah! I think there needs to be a gooey revolution. I love you, and a letter departs Ecuador tomorrow, on its way to you.

  3. Your gooey times inspire me, Sarah! And I love the exchange between you and Mushim. Sending soft gooey creative determined metta your way. ❤

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