A few years ago, we were gifted a Monarch butterfly chrysalis.
This beautiful little green pod attached to a twig.
It was so incredibly exciting! We were going to hatch our own little butterfly! My daughter and I were ecstatic. She was super into animals at the time and I felt very privileged that we would get to watch the experience first-hand.
And as we experienced the different phases of the butterfly’s growth and evolution, we learned a whole bunch of lessons about change, why it’s hard, and why it has to be.
The outside world doesn’t see the hardest part
We worked hard to ensure it had just the right environment to do what it needed to do. The little chrysalis was placed in a jar and covered with the foot of some nylon pantyhose. This was to allow it to “breathe” but still keep all the little critters and what-nots out, to keep our little “Terrence” safe.
We placed the jar next to a window and made sure it goes enough fresh air and sun, but not too much.
And then we waited.
He sat there in his little jar for a week…and nothing was happening. I Googled, and checked every site I could find about the different phases of the Monarch because I wanted to know that something was happening.
I mean, what if it was just dead in there and we were waiting to be disappointed? (I was even smelling it daily because one site said it would smell “off” if it was dead… well, I didn’t know what “on” smelled like, so, there’s that.)
The hardest part was the first 5 days, because I felt like I needed some sort of confirmation that something was happening. What didn’t occur to me at the time was that the little caterpillar had basically become a mess of goop in there and was using all his energy to reform into the beautiful butterfly we were waiting to see emerge.
Lesson: sometimes the hardest work goes on behind the scenes, and even though it seems like nothing is happening, there’s a whole lot of change happening beneath the surface. And sometimes the hardest part is not for the world to see.
After the work, change happens pretty quick
Then one morning, about a week later, I came downstairs to find it had gone from a beautiful green to pitch black. At first, I panicked thinking it was really dead and had rotted. I Googled, and sure enough, the “emergence” had begun.
Lesson: change isn’t always pretty.
24 hours later, the little chrysalis had gone transparent and we could see the tiny little outline of a Monarch butterfly.
We set the jar on the table next to the door leading to the backyard. And waited some more.
4 hours later, the butterfly started to emerge…
We had waited over a week for this moment!
And it happened in under a minute.
Lesson: when you’re ready, change happens swiftly.
We waited another couple of hours for the little guy to inflate and dry out his wings. We had moved him to the deck at this point, taken the twig out of the jar and just held it. We didn’t touch Terrence, not dig we manipulate the twig.
When he started flapping his wings, we took him to flower bush and let him climb on himself. He sat there for a few more minutes and then took his first flight!
There are so many metaphors for everything we witnessed and how they apply to life, to change, to the struggles we all go through.
The biggest lessons are the ones we learned AFTER he flew off. I shared them in a Facebook live I did this past summer, and I’d love for you to have a look and let me know your thoughts.
(Watch it in fullscreen because I still haven’t learned to hold my camera the right way when making videos. LOL!)
You can also click here to watch the video on Facebook if the one down below is wonky (scroll to 05:30 if you want to skip hearing about the actual experience of hatching the butterfly and get to the goods!)