Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.
I’m blessed to be living these past eight days with a persistent common cold on the side of a mountain during this unprecedented time of a global pandemic. As I compose this essay, I have toilet paper and know that I can use a warm washcloth to wipe my tush if I run out. I have self-quarantined since the runny nose moment. I keep choosing to fill my mind with loving thoughts, loving memories, and love songs. I am fortunate to have a choice of where I place my time, intentions, and attention. I notice myself occasionally wondering if I actually have contracted the virus, then my adult self reassures my younger selves that we have not. I know at this juncture that I’m in charge of the experience of a rich inner world where I can place peace in the center no matter what goes behind me, before me, or all around me.
As many of you know, if you’ve read any of my essays, I’ve lived through many traumatic experiences AKA freaking terrifying sh&^ throughout my lifetime. What I awakened to a few years ago is that a life lived chronically terrified is not a fulfilling one. I was “trained” in unpredictable chaos and uncertainty. I notice that what I’ve experienced personally since birth has seemingly become a global reality in that every human being on the planet is being impacted by the great uncertainty, profound change, and constant disruptions.
Grappling for a lifetime with the impermanence and uncertainty of life has taught me to connect deeply to that part of me that remains connected to Love, God, Universe, to the quiet witness that watches without judgment the good, the bad, the godawful, and the exquisitely, achingly beautiful of myself, life, nature, and people.
This calm, compassionate place of deep and enduring inner peace has taken me a lifetime to discover and grow.
The outer world dramas no longer terrify me because I have become the essential me. Do I get anxious every now and then? Yes! I know these sensations in my body like I know the feel of my tongue in my mouth. I know I can flow them through my heart and psyche. Often the trapped residual effects of past traumas release as a tingling, warm shower throughout my inner body. With the support of many other people I took back the controls of my life to the very quiet one deep inside that can watch those thoughts, imagine the healing of the planet, feel grateful for this moment of inhale and exhale, hear the words that actually come out of my mouth, feel the hunger pangs in my stomach, watch the bubbling soap like an awestruck toddler as I wash my hands and sing “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy!” by Blood, Sweat, and Tears.
I already made peace several years ago with the fact that I’m going to die. My life was threatened at three years old. I began wrestling with the death angst way before I could write full sentences or ride a bicycle let alone embrace butterfly metaphors. The fear of death hunted me much of my life. Many times I have felt dead in the grips of freeze or dissociation. Yet, here I am able to reflect on life, death, and inner peace.
There’s so much in life that we have absolutely no control over-not the weather, not a pandemic virus, not what other people do or say, not what’s going to happen tomorrow, and definitely not when we are going to exit the planet.
Death continues to be the great equalizer. Death remains a profound teacher of how to live.
However, certain stages of metamorphosis for humans remain disorienting, uncomfortable, and messy. Being inside the dark cocoon as a liquified, no longer recognizable caterpillar wondering what’s happening next can be unbelievably scary. Relinquishing control over what remains utterly uncontrollable tests the very essence of a human being’s faith in that which lies beyond our limited understanding and perceptions. How do we actually imagine like John Lennon? Stretching ourselves towards becoming comfortable with discomfort, calm with uncertainty takes practice. Learning how to turn oneself into a beautiful butterfly of fragile strength to emerge, to break open that shell, to flutter in ease and freedom, in peace and joy constitutes the very essence of transformation.
May you use your experience of the pandemic to find or enhance the safe haven of inner world peace. May you know in your core that you are safe, that you are loved. May the sunshine of a new day and the beauty of butterflies remind you of a way to inner freedom and joy.