The theme of today’s NY Times Crossword Puzzle is butterfly. I could tell right away, not because I am smart in the way that everyone who does the NY Times Crossword Puzzle regularly imagines they are getting an award for, but because the clues were about transformation. And there is no more referenced symbol of transformation than a butterfly. Everywhere I walked today I noticed paintings and graffiti of the delicate multi-colored symbol of what is possible in change.
This perfectly functioning insect, a miracle of an insect, inching along, repetitively fulfilling its life’s purpose, until one day, a violent, painful darkening occurs. Going inside and ripping apart the present, loosening the bonds of something old in order to transform into a beautiful thing…a thing that can fly.
Change is the constant and nature of life. Each second is different from the last. We have aged. We have grown. We have gotten more information. We have forgotten important things that need to be relearned.
So much sadness comes from the resistance to that inescapable fact. We join political parties and religions to entrench our beliefs. We adhere to repetitive lifestyles that give comfort on one level and completely limit our capabilities in another. We stop listening. We stop understanding that we don’t know in order to avoid the painful periods of transformation that are necessary in order to bound through life rather than slog.
I experience this all the time in my work and my resistance to travel. I get mad and depressed every time I leave home to work in another city. I was just getting used to my routine. How will I ever know what home is? I can’t get used to all of the things I want to get used to. I rally against it and get mad at my life.
And then eventually I give in and get to learn from a new place and a new culture. I learn from new artists and professionals and my worldview expands and I’m more of myself than I was before.
In a new company I may be working with a dancer who just doesn’t work in the way that I need to and every day seems like conflict until I go through the painful self-realization that there are endless ways for me to work with people and to limit myself is to undermine myself. This new person is in fact a new person. The opportunity is to change.
The universe is unlimited. Time is unlimited. The ability to know is unlimited. Moving toward anything other than being what a butterfly is to a caterpillar is a limit of belief and imagination and a denial of the infinity made available to us.