Chrysalis adventure: Transformation

A caterpillar builds its chrysalis.

A butterfly is a symbol of transformation, romance, renewal, playfulness, spirituality, individuality, responsibility, gracefulness, celebration, and expansion.

The Astronomy Web

By Faye Bayko

A butterfly’s very existence suggests an embracing of change has taken place.

New Year’s resolutions are all about a desire for change. They’re made in the spirit of hope each January 1st and most have been turfed by February 1st. This year, for me, will be different. I have set off on what I call my chrysalis adventure. I am determined to morph from caterpillar into butterfly, even at this late stage in my life. The tough part will be the mushy bit that happens inside the chrysalis.

Letting go of the caterpillar me and allowing myself to dissolve into nothing before becoming a butterfly is terrifying.

The advantage the caterpillar has over a human is the caterpillar doesn’t have other caterpillars telling it not to build a chrysalis, or to transform. A human does.

We all have people in our lives who have never built their own chrysalis, either because of their fear of the unknown or a naivety of how life works, and because of that they seem determined to keep us from doing so. But transformation is what life is about.

The instinct to grow and transform is part of every life cycle. Butterflies just do it in a dramatically visual way and the stages of their growth are strictly defined. For humans, transformation is more subtle and doesn’t have such a defined or straight-forward timeline. And we often need more than one attempt at it before being successful.

When I decided to go on my chrysalis adventure, I thought it would be like my previous attempts at transformation: write down what was to be kept and what was to be let go of, but I soon realized that a caterpillar doesn’t choose what bits to tuck inside the shell of the chrysalis. It tucks every bit of itself inside. If it didn’t there would be no butterfly. Suddenly, fear of the unknown became real to me. If I brought every bit of me into the chrysalis then I had to let go of all I had been and any control over the outcome. I had to trust the process.

I also had to do it alone. There can only be one caterpillar inside a chrysalis. To enter a chrysalis adventure is to move forward alone, to let go alone, to melt down alone, to transform alone. There are no partnerships in this adventure.

But afterward, there is a lift off and a fluttering of iridescent wings.

Photo credit: Houston Museum of Natural Science

About Author

Faye Bayko
I am a writer and photographer currently working out of Port Alberni, BC.