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?