Without Change, There Would Be No Butterflies

February 15, 2011

By Lori Boyd

I am not always thankful for change. I’ve grown up with her my entire life and you’d think by now we’d be friends, but to be honest, sometimes she gets on my nerves. Growing up in the Air Force, I learned from a young age the art of adaptation: the ability to blend myself into new surroundings, relate to different people and assume life in various cultures. Still, although she’s not a stranger, I wish change would check in with me first before she decides to drop by the house.

Native Butterfly Garden at Burgess Falls

Now that I’m settled into life with my husband and children I feel very comfortable with my new friend, routine, and as I refer to my list of things to do for the day, I find that I don’t really have the energy or interest in spending time with change at all anymore. Then I remember that although her timing for me is not always the best, change is the one who brings me the most wonderful gifts. Meanwhile, as if she’s reinforcing this very fact, I notice a butterfly outside my window and remember something I recently read: “Without change there would be no butterflies.”

I could learn a thing or two from the butterfly’s relationship with change. The writer and poet Maya Angelou once said, “We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” How true! Consider that a butterfly is in the fourth and final stage of its life. Throughout the previous egg, larva, and pupa stages, change has been the butterfly’s only constant. Of these, I think the larva stage would be the most enjoyable and also the most likely pitfall for complacency. Life there is about staying full and happy and getting new clothes every now and then, or what would be considered “molting” by the caterpillar. This is where, if change were to come knocking, as the caterpillar I might want to throw my voice from the underside of the leaf and say, “Sorry, no one is home right now!” But the caterpillar rather welcomes change and begins the arduous process of complete cellular breakdown. This is not merely an express facial or minor dermabrasion; it is the mind-boggling transformation into another shape entirely. What is so admirable about this metamorphosis is that some species of butterfly only live a few days after emerging from the chrysalis. Others, however, will undertake a long migration to warmer climates and live another six to eight months before starting a new life cycle. Whether the butterfly will enjoy being a butterfly for two days or whether it will flutter happily through a couple of seasons, it accepts change for who she is regardless of her timing. I think of my grandmother, who chose to fight lymphoma at the age of 85. Change brought chemotherapy and radiation treatments, but it also gave my three children the chance to build memories with one of the most beautiful women I have ever known. I am thankful that my grandmother, like the butterfly outside my window, embraced change.

While having an unpredictable friend like change can be a challenge, imagine what could be missed if you only spend time with routine. When change comes calling today, tomorrow, or years down the road, remember that she has a great deal to offer, not only for you, but for the others she will affect through you. I am sure life is better for the caterpillar as a colorful winged work of art, and I can tell you I feel happier myself just having seen one.

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  1. Patricia Hancock says:

    Just to tell you how much I enjoy your magazine… THANK YOU