Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Caterpillar's Story

Let me tell you a story.
It's a tale of transformation, a story about change. It could, perhaps, be said to be a story about us.
But let's call it what it is . . . a story about a caterpillar. The history of every caterpillar.

Every caterpillar, once it has gorged its way through all the tasty leaves in its vicinity, arrives at a predetermined destination. It becomes a larvae.
Cocooned in this new form, it rests its bloated body and starts to mutate.

However, a disturbing thing is about to happen . . . disturbing, that is, from the point of view of the caterpillar.

There takes place what can only be called in internal invasion.
Within the cocoon what are known as imaginal cells start to take form. The caterpillar sees these small cells as an alien invasion and, much as our bodies would respond to a viral infection, fights the invaders by means of its immune system.

Initially, some of the imaginal cells are destroyed, but, such is the determination of these new arrivals, such is the rapidity of their proliferation, that, within a short period, they have multiplied sufficiently to take over the host body. The caterpillar surrenders and the conquering cells emerge from the cocoon in the form that destiny has chosen for them, they emerge as a butterfly.

That is an accurate, biological account of nature's skilful means of converting a rapacious, earthbound caterpillar into a dazzling, airborne butterfly . . . a creature that lives lightly on the land it embellishes.

I won't insult your intelligence by driving home any morals to the story But I would just suggest, very gently, that those imaginal cells knew what they were doing. They knew where they were going. They could picture the wings that awaited them, the scented air where they would hover.

If caterpillars want to remain rapacious and earthbound in the face of such inspirational determination, well . . . however voraciously they may have gorged in the past, they don't really have a chance . . . do they . . .