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Painting a New Life

Musings of the Day


Hear this read aloud below

I believe most of us are familiar with the process a caterpillar goes through to emerge as a butterfly. It has been referred to in every way shape and form possible. For me, it is a very real experience. A caterpillar doesn’t know it’s a caterpillar. It simply goes about eating as much as possible to store fuel for the transformation it’s about to go through. I have done something similar in my life, consuming as much life experience as possible and feeding myself with all of it so that when it was time to cocoon, I would have all of that to draw upon. In the cocoon, the caterpillar begins to eat itself alive, turning its caterpillar form into a mush like state. It’s a state of being nothing in particular on its way to becoming who it was meant to be. Like the caterpillar, I have had to cocoon for a very long time, not being one thing or another. The difference is that as a human I have had to pretend to be something, because in our culture, being something is the only acceptable identity to have. People will ask you what you do, who you are, and if you say you don’t know—well that just makes you sound even worse than nothing. How can you be an adult and not know who you are?

Looking back over the last 20 years or so, it’s apparent that I have been in that state without identifying it as such. I left a hard-core identity as a bodybuilder, trainer and coach not knowing what was next. Though I clung to shreds of that identity for far too long, it’s clear in retrospect that it was the clinging that made it all last so terribly long. If only I could have let go fully, maybe this whole process would have gone more smoothly and quickly. But hanging on is an old pattern and one I am doing my best to break. After all, leaving behind something for the unknown feels like jumping off a cliff with no sense of the ground below.

After these 20 years in my cocoon I have to admit that in some ways I like it in here. It’s been safer than being outside pretending to be something I’m not. Illness has given me a great way out, but the time has come for my final stage of transformation, and illness will not cut it anymore. There are no more excuses and I no longer feel more comfortable in here. I feel suffocated. My mushy self is beginning to take form and there isn’t enough room in here for me anymore. I’m bursting at the seams.

Though I can’t write from the other side yet, the place where I imagine I will land fully formed as who I was meant to be, I am having visions of what might be waiting for me there. I feel my energy surging at times and my fires being stoked. There are times when I feel almost giddy with these newfound bits of me that are forming. What might be possible if my energy fully returns and my health improves and I have more freedom to live?

The transformation is taking place at a rate that can no longer be stopped or even slowed. It’s like a runaway train and not in a bad way. It just means that the intention I declared about this year, about painting a new life, is coming to fruition and the experience is exhilarating. My cocoon is getting ready to burst and nothing is going to stop it now. All of the work of all of these years, the isolation, the deep inner journeys, the roller coaster of dying and being reborn over and over again, has led me here. There is no way to know what my life will look like outside this cocoon or who I will ultimately be. I do know for sure that whoever that is, is the person I’ve been seeking for most of my life. I feel like I am coming home.

See the Metamorphosis Series of images here

All are available as fine art prints in multiple media.


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