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July 16, 2009

This Wonderful Life: The smallest things transform us


You and I know what’s coming, but maybe the caterpillar doesn’t. Certainly her caterpillar cohorts don’t, and they don’t understand her restlessness.

``Just shed that skin like always,’’ they tell her.

``You’ll get bigger and bigger. One day, we’ll be huge — the largest caterpillars to roam the land. We’ll devour mighty oaks in one chomp!’’

She’s not interested in that, though. She has this idea that things could be really different. Really different. So instead of shedding her skin for a new one that’s more or less the same, only larger, she builds herself a safe place to create something almost inconceivable.

Inside, everything breaks down. Literally. Her legs and antennae and her hungry little munching mouth all break down.

For all practical purposes, the caterpillar is dead — toast. Or, more accurately, soup. WhatÆs left is a formless ooze that contains the essence of what it means to be a caterpillar, which happens to be identical to the essence of what it means to be a butterfly.

Its absolutely not that remarkable. It happens every day. It may be happening just a few feet or yards from where you are sitting right now. But try telling that caterpillar how ordinary it is.

Try telling the butterfly that what happened to her was run-of-the-mill.

Fables are usually packed with a point, and this one is no different. The lesson here is that remarkable, unforeseeable change is both deeply meaningful and entirely achievable. Like growing up.

Elizabeth Trever Buchinger believes every child is capable of sprouting wings. You can connect with her at www.moremindfulfamily.

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