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Time For A Radical Reimagining Of Our Personal and Collective Potential: Lessons of Metamorphosi

Got that telescopic lens on we were just talking about? Good-Because a little winged messenger, named “psyche” by Aristotle, is about to inspire us to go far beyond the boundaries of what we think is possible in our own lives and on the planet.

In therapy, we talk about personal change and transformation as a process that takes time and consists of several stages. Each stage, valuable and necessary, presents both benefits and obstacles filled with growth potential. The Monarch has an evolutionary advantage in reinventing itself. The butterfly’s evolutionary impulse to evolve and emerge never has to respond to an internal signal that says “I am not enough”.

So now it's time for us to leverage our potential, to take the role of other, and join the creative cultural conversation of change-Monarch Style. In Part I, we are going to fly like the Monarch flies through 2 of its 4 stages of metamorphosis and live in wonder of its transformative powers. Now you will need to find and put on a little monarch equipment before we take off. Good news-“Your crown has already been bought and paid for”-compliments of your ancestors-“all you have to do is put it on." (James Baldwin) Found Yours? Got it on? Excellent-I Can See It, Let’s Go!

The Egg

Amazingly, there is absolutely nothing about a tiny monarch’s egg that suggests it stores all the evolutionary information necessary to completely transform itself and literally become unrecognizable from its prior appearance three times in a single lifetime. The tiny egg holds and protects the “promise of potential”. It sits on a leaf, whole and separate in a ginormous world with just a little bit of protein inside to begin its journey. Soon a powerful and creative evolutionary impulse takes hold, and the tiny egg begins to grow, to evolve, to expand its identity, and build capacity. In a matter of weeks, flight ready wings will be constructed which will lift the Monarch up to depart East Lansing, Michigan, and fly all the way to Mexico. Can you imagine if all of this brilliance and potential is stored in a tiny egg not much larger than a grain of sand, what could possibly be stored inside of you?

Ahh, lingering in the wonder.

The Caterpillar

Ready for more transformative powers? Presto Chango- Poof- what was basically just a single point, a little dot, suddenly becomes a multidimensional moving being taking in vast amounts of nourishment and resources from its environment. Everything it needs to survive and grow during this stage of development lives outside of itself. When the caterpillar grows too large in size to fit comfortably in its own skin, it molts. It just takes it off, sheds it, makes room for new growth, and literally gets bigger. As Psychologist Carl Jung once said "we don't actually solve our problems, we outgrow them".

These intervals between molts are known as an Instar. Instarring happens 5 times in just a 2 week period. In 10-14 days, the little larva keeps expanding its capacity and stores all the energy and support it needs to transform itself yet again. Can you imagine if the young Monarch can repeatedly nourish itself to instar proportions by receiving support externally, how much of your growth potential must lie in your drive to care for yourself and seek out support when it's time to grow?

The definition of the word instar is to resemble, to be equal in form, or contain equal worth or value. In the therapeutic process, we are often attempting to “instar” or develop a new sense of self that senses and knows its own value, worth, and equality despite distress or discomfort. Here’s where we need to leverage our potential and take a cue from our little winged messenger.

It’s time to make like a caterpillar and understand that nature never intended our symptoms of distress (anxiety and depression) to become harsh judgmental voices echoing “you’re not enough”. Like the Monarch, our physiological distress signals are the voices of our ancestors encouraging us to grow and evolve. Over millions of years, our species created a sophisticated alarm system that protects and reminds us that something new needs to emerge. Our ancestors fought and struggled to survive to make sure we were born. They never questioned our worth, value, or importance. Can you imagine if every time you entered a state of distress, you just knew you were instarring a new intelligence, a new identity, or a new capacity that lies dormant within? Who would you be if every time you felt fear or pain in your body, you never actually questioned the value or worth of your own being? That crown is looking really good on you.

To Be Continued . . .

Our mini “Raise, Release, and Rise Up” en-rich-ment office project would like to thank a very special local science teacher who has given us the “promise of possibility” by helping students and Monarch’s alike grow and spread their wings. You can help support the population of little winged messengers by planting milkweed and nectaring flowering plants, and urging local community buildings to do the same.

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