“We Delight In The Beauty Of The Butterfly, But Rarely Admit The Changes It Has Gone Through To Achieve That Beauty”. – Maya Angelou
Nature gives us many amazing creatures to draw inspiration from. Of insects, butterflies are considered one of the most beautiful. As Maya Angelou says, do we ever pause to think about how the butterfly becomes so beautiful?
‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar‘ is one of the most popular children’s books of all times, and for many, it was one of the very first books they heard as a child. We know that caterpillars undergo a period of change in their chrysalis to become a butterfly – but we don’t often ponder how brutal that process can be.
This quote by Maya Angelo is powerful as it prompts us to think about the changes a butterfly has gone through to discover its true nature. Understanding these changes can help us understand the nature of change.
Here are five important life lessons about change that we can learn from this quote:
1. Change is painful, but can lead to great beauty
Is it painful for the caterpillar to undergo metamorphosis?
We can’t know for sure. We do know that the cells begin to self-destruct and are digested to become parts of the butterfly – it rips itself apart to build a new version of itself.
It doesn’t sound entirely comfortable, which may be why we don’t like to think about it too much. But just like the caterpillar’s metamorphosis, change can often seem tough in the beginning.
A new beginning is a good thing, but it often involves the end of something else, and saying goodbye to people or places can be truly painful. But after the initial pain, changes always lead to something beautiful.
2. Hard times help us to become our true selves
Have you ever looked back on a hard times in your life and wondered how you dealt with it? Where you found the strength to continue?
Sometimes, parts of ourselves can only truly emerge from hard times. We can find aspects of ourselves – like strength of character, perseverance, or dedication – from the most challenging times.
These moments can make us a better version of who we were before.
3. Things are not always the way that they seem
Nobody can see inside a chrysalis as a caterpillar undergoes such seismic change. Sometimes, we cannot even truly see a situation in our own lives until we have come through the other side.
It is only when you are past the pain that you can understand how it has changed you for the better.
You may not see the good in what is happening to you right now – but one day your vision might be clearer, and you may be able to see why you needed to go through what you did in order to grow.
4. If you look deeper, you will find hidden wisdom
Perhaps the situation in your life is causing you to ask some questions that you have never asked yourself before.
Life can be busy and loud, and we’re constantly distracted. It can take something huge to make us stop and ask questions of ourselves: what do we truly believe in? From where do we draw our strength? What do we want to do with our lives, are we going in the right direction?
We can find wisdom and purpose hidden in our suffering – if we are willing to look for it.
5. To live is to keep changing and evolving
Change is part of life. In fact, the older you get, the more you realise you don’t know.
Sometimes you look back on your past selves and not recognise who you were before. This is good! To change and evolve is a good, and natural, thing. In fact, it is a fundamental part of being alive.
As Angelou says, we rarely consider the changes the butterfly goes through. The butterfly cannot reach that level of beauty without the pain that comes with transformation.
If we change our mindset, we can see the whole process – and not just the end product – as beautiful.