Covid and the Caterpillar : What we can Learn about Change.

“It’s with butterflies in my belly – that mix of excitement, riding on the back of fear, I choose to transform out of this”

Covid-19 has brought us many challenges. As everyone is going through their own experiences, we are also collectively coming to terms with a changed world. The emotions are as a bereavement – disbelief, sadness, anger, bargaining (if I follow the rules for X amount of time, I can go on holidays after that, right?) and acceptance. However, it is not linear and we may find ourselves experiencing all these uncomfortable feelings within days or even minutes of each other, which leaves us feeling anxious and exhausted. 

And then it was quiet

During this time, I’ve noticed the loud hum of bees in a cherry blossom in my garden and butterflies flitting around me. With two months of lockdown behind us and with an uncertain summer ahead. I wonder what I have learned so far, and has this been a temporary change for me, my community and the planet, or is it truly a transformation? I used to joke ‘If only the world would stop for two weeks, so I can catch up!’ Well, I got my wish  – and then some. There are many factors in the current circumstances that are outside our control. If we can accept and let go of that, we open up to making changes to the things we can – if we want to. 

Feeling ‘less than’ others can leave us stuck  

It’s natural to feel daunted or compare yourself to others whose lives seem idyllic in their social media posts. There are those that seem to be powering through the crisis, when today you did well just to comb your hair. We never know what’s truly going on in someone’s life. What struggles and challenges they’ve had to surmount to reach their personal summit. Rarely is anything achieved without getting out of the comfort zone, facing the fear and just doing it. Covid has pushed us out of our comfort zone whether we like it or not. We are fearful about our future. Now, is the opportunity to activate our choice muscle. Sometimes staying still and clinging on just gets too painful – we have to let go and hope there’s a soft landing for our free-fall. What I know beyond doubt is, my greatest growth and transformation has been borne out of my deepest despair and heartbreak. 

“It took knowing what I didn’t want, to finally focus my energy on what I did want.”

When I look back on things I’ve achieved, I see a common thread of trust, consistency, difficult decisions, commitment and hard work. If I’m honest, often, I had no choice – I was pushed by people or circumstances outside my control. But I always found an inner strength that at times had been dormant for years. I sat down to write my first book after three months in a job I was terrible at and hated; though my mother loved it because it was safe and pensionable (I should mention I was in my forties to boot!). It took knowing what I didn’t want, to finally focus my energy on what I did want. Things haven’t always worked out. I have spent many hours working towards goals that I ‘should’ be chasing to the point I became depleted. Often, though, we give up when we are so close. The difference is being connected enough with your inner voice to know when your heart is really in something or if its your head or ego that’s chasing it. While the best decisions are a mix of head and heart, I believe the heart never lies and it’s your heart that will get you over the finish line.

“We delight in the beauty of a butterfly but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” Maya Angelou

I had been shifting towards change in 2020 but stale thought patterns still tugged, pulling me back. Covid hit. Then the butterflies brought their own lesson. The symbolism of beauty, freed from the chrysalis after it’s transformation, never to go back to the way it was before. If I dare to be so cheeky as to adjust Maya’s quote – I phrase it like this – ‘we gaze at the beauty of a butterfly but rarely see the changes, the cocooning, and the final breaking-free it undergoes to reveal it’s beautiful magnificence.’

With gratitude I say goodbye to some aspects of my old self. With sadness I let go parts of me I wish I could hold on to forever. Now, it’s with the butterflies I feel in my belly – that mix of excitement riding on the back of fear – I choose to transform out of this. Will you join me? 

               ‘The caterpillar who transforms in the cocoon doesn’t know, soon it will fly.’ Siobhán McKenna