This is the word I can’t get out of my head. The Microsoft Word thesaurus says it means transformation. Synonyms listed are conversion, alteration, mutation, transmutation, change, transfiguration. I think most of us think of butterflies, parents think of the Hungry Caterpillar, around here we are big fans of Velma Gratch and she calls it metal-more-for-this. Whatever it is, I think it’s happening to me.
You’d think I would be grown up and all done with metamorphosis by now. I’m 48. I have a husband, two kids, a nice house, a good job. What’s left to change and why would I want to change anything anyway?
A few years ago, I became a runner and that turned out to be a huge transformation. The insecure yet determined nerd-girl bookworm feminist professor mom suddenly wanted to run. So I did and it turned out to be good. I made friends, had fun, sweat a lot, ran many races, got a whole lot less insecure and a whole lot more obsessed. I found joy. I got faster, though not fast enough.
Last summer and into the fall, things started to shift. I want to be a different kind of runner and that may make me into a different kind of person. I’m fairly sure of it. But now, this injury. Sigh. This injury has slowed the entire process. I am like a butterfly halfway out of the chrysalis. Sort of. I suspect the butterfly is less emotional about the whole process. Once the butterfly is finally out, it sits on the branch and waits for its wings to dry. It turns out a substance called meconium is pumped into the wings of the butterfly and as the wings dry, the meconium is pumped back into the butterfly. (Yes, that meconium, mothers of infants everywhere…You can guess where it goes next). Small amounts remain in the wings and harden and that is what allows the wings to become stiff enough for the butterfly to fly. So yes, trace amounts of shit remain on the wings and permit flight. Something to think about.
I wonder what the butterfly thinks of all this, though I am pretty sure it doesn’t think at all. It simply waits and I guess it knows the right moment because I haven’t heard much about the tragedy of all the dumb butterflies trying to take flight before their wings are dry. Lucky, lucky butterflies. They are not like me. I sit on the branch and my brain goes a million miles an hour wondering when these wings will be strong enough to fly. Indeed, I batter my wings against the edge of the chrysalis, risking damage as I try to pull myself out faster than I was meant to go. I look at all the other butterflies and wonder why they are airborne and I am not. I know this is a mistake, but I do it anyway. I study the most recently launched butterflies intently. How did they know their wing shit was dry enough to launch? When will mine be dry enough? What will that flight feel like? Then I think maybe we humans have something in common with the butterflies after all. Do they not also wonder just exactly what it will be like to fly?