Prompt | Painted Lady and Metamorphosis

When my daughter turned 4 years old she told me we needed to buy all new clothes.

“Now that I am 4 years old, I can only wear size 4,” she said.

I laughed out loud, and still do. Today we laugh together when I retell the story. Another metamorphosis that she regularly speaks about is the belief that every seven years your tastes change. She’s convinced that the closer she gets to 14 years old, that her taste buds will suddenly rebuke foods she currently likes and welcome tastes currently foreign or repulsed by her.

The seven-year rule, true or not, came to mind this morning, as I recalled the episode of Nature: Sex, Lies and Butterflies that I watched last night.

sex butterflies
View the full episode of Sex, Lies and Butterflies here

From PBS’ Nature:

Butterflies have been making our planet more interesting and beautiful for more than 50 million years, and today a dazzling array of nearly 20,000 different species inhabit the globe. Nature: Sex, Lies and Butterflies follows the lives of these incredible and important insects from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to the emergence of the mature winged creature. This vibrant new Nature special explores the astonishing survival techniques of butterflies, including their 360° vision, deceptive camouflage, chemical weaponry, and fantastic flight across continents. Through sophisticated macro-filming, viewers get a rare glimpse beyond the butterflies’ bright colors and fragile beauty as they follow them on one of the greatest migrations on Earth. Narrated by Paul Giamatti.

The journey of the Painted Lady, from its tiny gem-like eggs from which its first iteration emerges, made me appreciate Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar that much more. I was so taken with the life cycle of this insect, that last night I asked my blogging partners in crime Dale (Dalectable Life) and Marc (Sorryless) to join me in a writing challenge to include the following words:

  • Metamorphosis
  • Virgin
  • Flight
  • Rudder
  • Hover
  • Antenna
  • Clap
  • Control
  • Painted Lady
  • Juvenile

My inclination this morning was to write my reaction to the beautiful story about butterflies done by Nature. Instead, I’ll use the five metamorphoses that occur before the Painted Lady butterfly emerges as a metaphor for human life.

Monarch loves the zinnias on the lakefront, by Karen Craven
Monarch loves the zinnias on the lakefront, by Karen Craven

To be is human

What if we could clap, the same way we can turn on a light from inside a dark room, and suddenly a new you appeared?

Who’s to say that we can not?

The only person saying no is you.

Face it, we often hover in the same place, stagnant and rudderless. It’s called being stuck. Instead of taking flight, we let others control our lives. We ignore the electricity inside of us, that twitches our antennas of curiosity. We revert back to juvenile behaviors, acting like virgins once more, coy and naive, unaware and afraid of the countless transformations ahead.

Metamorphosis. I lack the sufficient number of digits to count how many times I have died, only to be reborn as someone new. This next experience was the beginning of the end of the young Karen, the one without a painted face. She started to die the first time she made up her face. She sat at the old desk, picked up from a garage sale, painted and transformed to a vanity, used by the three sisters inside the bedroom that in a previous life served as a spacious guest room. The young painted lady stared into the Conair makeup mirror. She turned the lighting dial and saw how purple eyeshadow, black eyeliner, green mascara looked different in daylight, office lighting, and evening. As she played with the variations, she nary imagined she would stand before countless mirrors, just like Snow White’s evil stepmother, and rub rouge onto her cheeks, sweep blush over her emerging cheekbones, apply lipstick to her already pink lips, in the hopes that she might be the fairest one of all.

Makeup is an obvious exterior transformation. It’s the internal ones that require the art of unsticking. I reflected on more important life changes recently. Events, like birth, death, divorce, graduation, new job, old job, motherhood and more. Every event changes us. Every day we change.

I wonder did I become a mother the moment I wrote in my journal that I wanted nothing more in life than to be a mother as I sat in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains almost 14 years ago? Or was that just the beginning of a transformation into motherhood that did not fully claim me until 4:46 a.m. on July 29 11 months later? I don’t know. But I do know that being open to the change, wanting and welcoming that change, was my invitation to the world that I was ready to bring life into our universe.

There are times when we suppress change and build a formidable cocoon. It may be years before we emerge from it; the exit is not always beautiful. It can be painful, like childbirth without an epidural, or it can be spiritual like the bliss of a clear and silent mind found through meditation. However, we emerge is not nearly as important as the action.

Accepting change, learning from it, and adapting to it is the miracle of life. We are resilient creatures who just like a butterfly can migrate from continent to continent, climate to climate, culture to culture, and through each journey, we never sway from our foundation: We are human. As such, we are in a constant state of metamorphosis as living beings. To be is human.

13 Thoughts

  1. What a high bar you set, dear Karen. Seven out of the ten words in one paragraph! Hooo-eeee….
    Beautifully done. I could see my own self in various parts of this!
    Bummer… I cannot watch the episode as “We’re sorry, but this video is not available in your region due to right restrictions.” Grrr. Burns my butt when that happens.

    On that note… she cracks her fingers, shakes her hands and positions them on her own keyboard…

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hours! Just think of it… attached for HOURS… Lawzy…
        Yes, the hatching was particularly lovely. Amazing really when you think those eggs are smaller than a pinhead.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Karen,

    First of all, holy f*&king crap this was good! You rocked those prompt words into a great piece of writing, and now I am left to re-consider my pledge to Dale, lol. I told her I would include all the prompt words in 150 words or less . . because Imma crazy!

    But this is great stuff! The migration of butterflies across continents and how it is relative to OUR journeys? Are you kidding me? That’s a brilliant stroke is what that is!

    Peace and wings

    Liked by 1 person

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