the rewards of courage

Welcome to Tuesdays with Chel.



I always assumed that when a caterpillar made its metamorphosis into a butterfly, it went through a fairly straightforward transformation.

I thought the caterpillar made its cocoon, crawled inside, and while it slept, its wings grew and body elongated and then when all that was done, the new butterfly cracked through the cocoon and flew away.

I was very surprised and startled to learn what *really* happens to a caterpillar once it is inside its cocoon: it basically liquifies itself. The body of the caterpillar breaks down into its basic “imaginal” cells (which are similar to stem cells) and then the cells actually reform into a whole NEW creature- that of a butterfly. New body, new form, new head, new legs, new wings, new brain and heart… I’m not an expert on insect anatomy, but I think you know what I am getting at.

EVERYTHING is changed for that caterpillar.

Once I learned about this process, I couldn’t forget it. And it made me think about human life, and the ways that we evolve and change as individuals throughout our own lives.

I think that our (human) lives are ultimately made up of a myriad of opportunities for transformation and metamorphosis.

And a lot of them are scary as hell. Seriously. Change is a super scary thing. The possibility of losing some of what we know to be true in the process of change is even scarier. Sometimes, when faced with change, we even feel as if we might be asked to risk it all.

Just entertaining the possible outcomes of any situation can be very draining, and it’s often easier to just leave things the way they are and go about life as we know it.

I have to wonder this: if caterpillars had a choice in the matter, would they still transform into butterflies knowing what they had to go through in order for the transformation to happen? Would they have the courage to risk everything (literally everything- including their entire physical form) to become a butterfly? Even if they knew what was ahead (Wings! Flight!), and how much impact their individual forms had on the entire world (who isn’t completely inspired and in awe of butterflies?), would they still choose to go ahead with it?

Likely, there would be a lot fewer butterflies in the natural world.

But then here’s an interesting note about caterpillars and butterflies: some studies have shown that butterflies can remember bits of their lives as caterpillars, even though most of their “being” is completely transformed. Maybe “risking it all” isn’t quite as thorough as we think…

So, the next time you are faced with change and don’t believe you have the courage  required to deal with it, think of the caterpillar. Not only what their metamorphosis entails, but what the end results are. The butterfly. A whole new form, a whole new perspective from up above. A different approach to life. The ability to take flight and literally dazzle the world.

Chel Micheline is a mixed-media artist, curator, writer, and avid gardener/reader/swimmer who lives in Southwest Florida with her husband and daughter. When Chel’s not making art or pondering the Bliss Habits, she’s blogging at (come say hi!) or posting new things in the gingerblue etsy shop.

2 thoughts on “the rewards of courage

  1. Karen B says:

    Courage is a very big thing for me. I was brought up to fear – parents, authority, life and the Universe. If I didn’t do things right, then I would be in trouble. Discipline was based on fear of punishment rather than encouragement of reward. I grew up to be afraid, to have no confidence in myself. Being a ‘good girl’ was what was important. To this day, my actions are based upon this. I don’t have the courage to take risks, to put myself forward – to be myself. I recently lost my job – one that I’d only had for a few months – and the things that I lost (a monthly pay packet, the feeling that I was contributing) were nothing compared to the shame I felt (feel) having done something wrong. And so once again I find myself small, shrinking, trying to not be seen so that I don’t get into trouble (wondering if I’ll ever be good enough to hold down a job). Hoping that one day I’ll have the courage to love myself and to shine!

    Thank you Chel (I, too love butterflies!)

    • YES! Exactly. I always felt (and still feel) like I am teetering on the edge of something very scary, and my job is to keep myself SAFE rather than be courageous and just *jump*. To stay exactly as is sometimes feels like an accomplishment within itself, you know? Like THAT’s a reward in itself. Just not having terrible things happen. I think that comes from having had such a stressful childhood because of the Spina Bifida- I felt no control over anything that went on with my health, so when I finally got to the point where I felt like there was a little control, I grabbed on to it and held tight. The idea of letting that all go to become a “butterfly” just scares me to the very core, even though I know it’s necessary sometimes to flourish.

      Like you, I am trying to approach courage. It’s not natural for me. Maybe we can do it together- baby steps!

      *huge hugs*

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