Monday, November 4, 2013

Transformation: From Breakdown to Breakthrough – Part III

According to the first law of thermodynamics, “energy can be neither created nor destroyed.” However, energy can and does flow from one place to another as it is transformed, sometimes in a seemingly invisible manner and sometimes more dramatically. So….what does that mean for us in terms of breakdowns and breakthroughs? Let me tell you a story about transformation…..

A story that directly speaks to the process of breakdowns and breakthroughs is a familiar one – the transformational journey of the caterpillar. I know we are all familiar with the outcome, but how many of us are aware of the actual process? Caterpillars are internally programed for transformation. Their relatively brief life cycle begins as they are hatched from butterfly eggs, spending their brief existence in approximately 2-3 weeks of non-stop eating. Similar to the whimsical children’s book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, the feeding frenzy leads to tremendous physical growth. Within their brief lifespan as caterpillars, their body mass increases by the thousands, coupled with the multiple shedding of their exoskeleton to accommodate their rapid growth.

And then, the magic and the mystery are activated. The caterpillar, internally called to shed its exoskeleton for the very last time, finds a final resting place on a branch or stem and spins the requisite silk to create its temporary transformational home. Inside the black box of the chrysalis, the caterpillar is literally broken down to a liquid state, essentially chemically disassembled and then reassembled into the composition of the butterfly. When the breakdown and transformation is complete, the newly formed butterfly releases a hormone that softens the chrysalis to enable its emergence. The newly emerged butterfly is in a highly fragile state, requiring a bit of time for its wings to harden in preparation for initial flight.

Throughout our varied lives, we tend to be mysteriously and organically programmed for change, growth and transformation. This process is often perplexing and can take us by surprise as we are seemingly disassembled and reassembled into a new manner of existence. It’s my personal experience when I am on the breakthrough side of transformation, that nothing essential has been lost from my former way of being in the world. The elements of my prior life have simply been reassembled in a dynamic and powerful manner. It is also not unusual for me to need to take the time to physically and emotionally recover from the change process to allow my wings to harden, so to speak, before engaging in flight.

What about you?


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