7 Apples on a Saturday Night
One thing I appreciate about social media is the memories that pop up. This morning’s reminded me that I met John C. Maxwell nine years ago today. That was a moment I’ll never forget, meeting a leadership mentor I’d followed for so many years. That same memory also talked about the definition of “transform.” According to Dictionary.com, it means:
- to change in form, appearance, or structure; metamorphose.
- to change in condition, nature, or character; convert.
- to change into another substance; transmute.
In my younger years (like, before 40!), I mostly embraced transformation. In my twenties, I had a side hustle called Officeworkx that incorporated a butterfly into its logo, not just because I thought butterflies were cute, but also my acknowledgment of the metamorphosis we all experience many times over.
Sometimes life can be extraordinarily painful. Just as a caterpillar may not know its cocoon is preparing for miraculous change (that we assume is painful), we may think the pain we are experiencing is too much. Reality? Maybe it is too much.
Once a caterpillar has spun itself a silky pillow for its next phase, it sheds its skin, and the magic of the chrysalis is formed. It starts out as a soft shell, gradually hardening as a form of protection. While in that hard place, the caterpillar miraculously transforms. We don’t get to see the effort involved in that dark, protected place, the goop, the mess. When the butterfly is ready to emerge, it has to bust its way out, crack that shell, possibly life-threatening at times. It kind of sounds like us, hey? We get hardened to protect ourselves, but the only way forward is to transform from the inside, wade through the goop, and then break out of that hard shell we’ve surrounded ourselves with.
At the beginning of 2022, when friends were asking what my word for the year was going to be, “transformation” came to mind. I didn’t realize I needed a word, but I thought it was worth coming up with one! Interestingly, it has come up several times in various conversations the past couple of months. In a meeting the other day, the graphic design of a butterfly was presented as a possibility, and it took me right back to my business logo from the 1980s.
Once we’ve changed, transformed, become something altogether different, there is no going back. Things will never be as they once were. Nor should they be.
There is a part of me that would love to go back to how things were a couple of years ago, except not. I was pretty beat up after working in the field of trauma recovery and I needed to heal. I sure don’t wish to go back to that. But we are weary souls. We want to keep going, to persevere, it’s how we’re designed. But we are also ready for change, for peace, for rest, for transformation, getting out of the goop so we can enter a new phase of beauty and wonder.
Maybe I should be speaking for myself. As much as I’ve wanted a reprieve from reality, I desperately want to see what’s next. It’s got to be better than what is. At least the hope and magic of the chrysalis would lead me in that direction.
In all my ruminating about transformation, here are some thoughts:
- Fearing the unknown of what’s next does not negate that change is inevitable. Life will unfold before us whether we like it or not, so embracing change is pretty much a necessity.
- Avoiding transformation extends the pain of the experience.
- We likely won’t see the beauty of the thing until we’re on the other side of it. Just because it’s ugly or dark now, doesn’t mean it’s going to stay that way.
- Sometimes the darkness is protecting us.
- Beauty is painful. We don’t know what someone’s transformation process is, or where they are at in their transition. Are they crawling along, are they stuck in a cocoon, are they breaking out of the goop? Love and kindness, people, love and kindness.
- Let the butterfly’s metamorphosis be our hope in the middle of painful transition.
- Miracles and magic happen when we’re not even looking.
From memories to current moments, transformation is a constant, that much I know to be true.