LOST IN THE MIST
(Does the Caterpillar Miss the Butterfly?)
Sometimes that bank of fog comes out of nowhere to rudely fracture our complacency. To shatter our illusions of certainty, of permanence and everything else we hold dear.
Once lost from sight there’s no way of knowing when or even if, our world will reappear again as before, or if we are entering an alien landscape from which there is no return to what was.
Sometimes we see the fog ahead of us and yet we keep right on walking till it engulfs us – obscuring our perspective, erasing all our reference points, until we lose sight of not only where we are but also, if it’s deep enough, of who we are. Somehow in that mist the memory of who we were is not enough to hang the flesh of who we are becoming, it’s too flimsy and ethereal, it’s substance eludes us.
Nor is there even an ‘ahead’ to aim for, to give some hope of a continuance of sorts. There is only the mist. The swirling, living mist. The unknown, the unknowable, the fumbling, the stumbling, the fear of the next step forward and the pain it could engender, the growing panic of the impossibility of going back, ever. Back no longer exists, other than in our memory, no matter how much we may long for it. We are lost. Alone and unreachable in the mist.
We know we must let go of one shore before we can reach the next.
We may cast off with confidence and set out for new horizons. But as the land behind us recedes and shrinks into the distance, eventually disappearing as if it never was, with still nothing ahead of us, we are in a no mans land of emptiness.
We are painfully present in the space between.
With nothing familiar to cling to, to comfort, to distract, to reassure. Nothing solid to go back to, nothing visible to head for, in a cocoon of potent being.
All transformation involves a death.
When the caterpillar gets heavy, tired, full and yet still unsatisfied by its eating, it slows down.
What previously motivated it no longer holds light. It may fight this state for a while before becoming exhausted, when it finally gives in and gives up. No longer able to struggle, it stops and surrenders to the beckoning oblivion, welcoming it at last, wrapping itself in a cocoon from the outside world, it lets go. It dies.
When it succumbs to the darkness, the caterpillar can’t know that there is anything beyond. It can’t know that in that darkness, its molecules will be rearranged, reformed and realigned. It can’t know that the sadness of its own end heralds the beginning of the emergence of its wings.