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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

I'm a Pretty Butterfly, Y'all!

Yes, I'm going there.

Not too long ago my son got a cool little kit that allowed him to send away for some caterpillars and then watch them grow into butterflies right before his very eyes. Then he got the chance to release them into our backyard after about 10 days. He thought it was really nifty, and I have to admit I did too. For such a cliched metaphor the image of an ugly caterpillar stuffing its face and then burrowing down and emerging as a beautiful butterfly* is a dead useful one for describing momentous change. This is probably because there are really very few instances of any other animal doing something similar in such a striking fashion. Sure reptiles molt and birds change their feathers and frogs grow from tadpoles, but nothing captures the imagination nearly as much as the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly.

If you are not fascinated by this process, I suppose maybe you check it out for yourself. It's a truly inspiring process to watch.

I say all this because I am about to use this tired cliche to describe my own life, not just because it has new meaning to me, but because it is almost literally the best way to describe things. For the last 10 years I would say I have been an ugly, ambitious, frightened, slow-moving, impossibly conflicted caterpillar who has been meandering about this planet gorging on every possible influence that I could find, some good, many of them dubious. Yet, somehow in the last year and a half something started to happen to me. I found I cared a lot less about what was going on outside of me, in the alt-lit world, in the climate change and urban design world, in the working adult world, etc. I started looking inward and questioning all my motivations and precepts, and the values and biases that had lead me into the life I was living. I, in short, wrapped myself in an insulating cocoon and spent a great deal of time peering into the vastness of myself, trying to find what was my true motivation. This corresponded nicely with the beginning of Shire Reckoning Publishing House and Best Young Writers, with my quitting work and staying home with my son, my buckling down hard on my MBA school work, all of these things both a cause of and a feedback for the solipsistic loop I was engaged in.

Then, about 3 months ago, I started to see daylight: Collins was starting school, which would give me a lot more daily free time, I was graduating and would need to start looking for a job, the BYW contest was complete and a winner had been decided. I looked around me and saw that the world was much the same as I'd left it, but I was not. Something had changed in me. I was firmer, more resolute, more convinced of my values and my worldview and where I stood in that world. I knew where I wanted to go and, for the first time in my life I actually saw the way there. As the butterfly has only one goal in mind, to replicate itself as often as possible, I have become remarkably single-minded, animated by the knowledge that I have lighted on an answer that is beautiful and right as well as the realization that I have no idea how much more time I have on this planet and I have to make what time I have count as much as possible.

I'm sorry that this is vague; it's intentionally so. One of the few conflicts that have arrived out of my "metamorphosis" is what exactly to do with this blog. I don't have an answer yet, but rest assured I'm working on one. In the meantime, know that I have never really felt this sure of myself in my entire life. I know where I'm I get there is another story entirely.  

*That, interestingly enough, only lives for about two weeks and has the sole interest in having as much sex as possible so the species can replicate.