It has been six months since I stopped working, and I am still not ready to call it my retirement. I cannot help but think that there is another chapter that I still need to write before I can call it that.
When I left work in October of last year, I set two goals for myself. The first was to complete my memoir and figure out if I wanted to publish it. It has been a three-year journey for me, and I am thrilled that Seeing Clearly will be in print, hopefully, next week!
The second was the suggestion of my therapist, Chad, to “sit in the uncomfortable space of uncertainty” and allow my path forward to reveal itself. When he first told me that, my response was, “That sounds horrible!”
Chad laughed and said, “I know that about you, Chris. Think of it like the transformational process a caterpillar goes through to become a butterfly.”
I know I learned about that in grade school, but I had to go back and research it to remember how that happens.
As the transformation begins, the caterpillar spins a cocoon called a chrysalis. Inside the chrysalis, it releases enzymes that begin to digest itself, creating what looks like an unstructured goo.
“Yep, that sounds awful.”
Inside the seemingly amorphous mess, are groups of highly organized cells called imaginal discs which will ultimately become body parts for the butterfly—wings, legs, eyes, etc. Those imaginal discs then use the protein in the rest of the remaining goo to form the body parts of the butterfly. The whole process can take anywhere from a few weeks to as much as two years for some species.
I have always been more than a little left-brained–analytical methodical–so the idea of living in some form of amorphous state seems, if anything, unproductive. That said, if I think about the whole caterpillar to butterfly transformation a bit more, I see something interesting.
It’s not a random process at all. The basic building blocks for the butterfly are there from the beginning. The cells for the imaginal discs are present in the caterpillar and some caterpillars even have small wings inside them. I guess the whole process is nature’s way of figuring out what to keep and develop, as well as what is no longer needed after the transformation.
For me, the transformation isn’t about becoming something I am not, it is about letting go of the things that don’t feed my soul and focusing on the things that allow me to soar. It has become clear to me what I am not, and where I will end up is still very undefined, but I am starting to see shapes emerge.
That means that today, I am right in the middle of the goo.
I am surprisingly okay with that. I know this isn’t where I will be forever, but for the first time in my life, I am okay just being where I am at this moment.
Maybe I will never be a butterfly, but what the heck, even moths can fly!