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Second Chances

When a caterpillar wraps itself up in a cocoon and the world goes dark and still around it, does it know what the future holds? 

How does it feel to lie there, completely alone, and sense yourself changing into something you’ve never been, while still yourself on the inside?  Fondly remembering the past, the only life you’ve ever known, but accepting the inherent truth that you no longer belong there.  The light must be blinding, when it’s time to come out and show your new self to the world.  How rapidly your heart must beat as you cling to the wood beneath your feet and feel the wind rustle your fragile wings for the very first time.  How long does it take you to build up enough courage to trust those beautiful wings to carry you to worlds you’ve never imagined?  I wonder, lovely creature, will you ever truly realize your fantastic beauty and all that you are now capable of, or will you spend your life believing that you are nothing more than a caterpillar?

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I had the rare opportunity to witness a butterfly emerging from its cocoon this past weekend, amidst the fervent beating of hummingbird wings.  It was incredible, especially when, as we checked its progress over time, we realized that the fuzzy thing still inside the cocoon was actually a new caterpillar, who emerged from the other end over the course of the day.  I didn’t know they did that!  New life, from both ends of a cozy cocoon.

My mom told me recently, without me having mentioned the butterfly to her, that it’s time to lift my head.  When my former life fell apart, I spun myself a cocoon and shut out the rest of the world.  I didn’t know who I was, or who I was going to be.  I didn’t know how to explain why I needed everything to change without causing hurt, so I just didn’t say anything.  I hid myself inside that cocoon and began my transformation, not knowing what form I would take, or how long I would need. I just knew it was necessary to my survival.

The funny thing is, I emerged from that cocoon some time ago, experiencing the world close around me, but refusing to fly away from my safe and cozy place.  Had I witnessed that newborn butterfly trying to crawl back into its empty cocoon, I may have said, “Silly butterfly, you can’t fit back in there, now.  It’s of no use, you’re no longer a caterpillar.”  But there’s no telling exactly how long it takes a butterfly to realize what it has become.

I have such a wonderful, amazing new life.  One I never could have dreamed for myself.  I have experienced so much joy, growth, contentment and peace as I transitioned. 

But there was a part of me, possibly several parts of me, that were terrified to take flight.  I have these beautiful wings and the world is opening up before me, but what if I’m just a caterpillar?  What if these lovely adornments on my back are only an illusion?  Or worse, what if they are real, but I’m not worthy of them?

I have only mentioned him here once, the man I share my life with.  In a way, I’ve also weaved a cocoon around my love for him in some effort to protect it.  His name is Nathan.  He’s been there, patiently waiting for me, from the moment we met three years ago.  He has never minded that I move at the pace of a caterpillar carrying wings on its back.  But as I took each step, he told me stories of the way my wings dazzled in the sunlight and fluttered in the breeze.  He believed I could fly, long before I’d even thought it was possible, but he never pushed me to take flight.  In time, he helped me to not only see myself as he does, but to finally take a good hard look at my own reflection and accept all that I have been, all that I am, and the possibilities of all the things I may one day become.

I took my mom’s advice and lifted my head.  And you know what I realized?  I was already soaring above the ground.  But I was clinging to the remnants of my cocoon, carrying it with me, letting it weigh me down and keeping me from fully embracing my life and all of those who are in it.

So I let it fall to the earth below and flew freely, utterly and completely, for the very first time.

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