“Well, I must endure the presence of a few caterpillars if I wish to become acquainted with the butterflies.” -Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince.
Anybody who lives in a metropolitan city knows the nightmare that is parking. With that in mind, I was going to a late night dinner this past Saturday at a rustic Italian ristorante, and, despite it being well pass nine o’clock, I had to park quite a few blocks away. My stomach sending me aggressive demands for nourishment, I set out on the infinite trek for “nums” when my friend and I came across the mural seen below (*check the addendum at the bottom of this page). We instantly had to put dinner on hold for an impromptu photo shoot in the street.
At first I just thought it was a cool scene with mysterious lighting and a cliche` message about self-improvement. My entire self-confidence runs on the number of likes I get on social media (unhealthy I know) so later that night, I began searching for the perfect quote to accompany the photo for upload. It was when I found this one from the Little Prince that I understood, for me at least, the true purpose instilled within this photo.
Obviously, I lack an in depth knowledge of entomology, but from what I can remember thanks to Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar, the main thing to garner is that they eat and eat and eat before cocooning (much like me every night before bed). Throughout our lives, we surround ourselves with caterpillars; perhaps we might even be a caterpillar. In translation, a caterpillar is one who knows nothing more than base desires. Its primary focus in life is to consume everything in its immediate vicinity. The caterpillar is unable to see the world from the vantage of the butterfly because it is yet unable to see beyond the abject, unable to possess more grandiose, higher thoughts.
All too often we date for a simple base desire: fear of being alone. In doing so, we fall into a trap of accepting the first person who offers us a well-placed compliment, the person who might physically be quite attractive but offers no intellectual substance, the person who is likewise hunting for the first single mate (s)he comes across for the same reason as us.
It is only when we become a butterfly can we search for a partner with whom you are truly compatible. When we put aside superficial qualms about needing a partner for the sake of having one is when our legitimate soul mate will come into our lives. That’s not to say one should not actively seek a partner, hoping (s)he just falls into our lap by random chance. (Side note: I was set on standing in the produce section of the supermarket last week until someone literally ran into me with their cart by mistake, planning to then drop my vegetables with the thought that upon bending down to retrieve said produce, we’d lock eyes and instantly fall in love right then and there among the rutabaga and watercress). Instead, we can take time to focus on what it is we genuinely seek in a partner and then set forth to pursue that, never ceasing until you find the one who fulfills your transcendental desires rather than simply the base desires of which we too easily fall prey.
We have hope, though, because even in the end, the caterpillar cocoons itself away from the world, taking time to reflect. It grows, physically, mentally, and spiritually, metamorphosing into a new being. The experience of the caterpillar is encouraging to us. It’s a tale of self-discovery, a lesson than our past and present does not dictate who will be tomorrow. Yes, this wonder of nature is an inspiration that tomorrow always holds something new, something exciting, some miraculous, and more importantly, that good things take time.
Readers, can you think of other base desires that could be clouding one on a search for love or in their pursuit of a relationship?
*Addendum: After writing this post, I discovered a little background about the Butterfly mural that I thought was interesting. The organization, Butterfly Effect, began in 2013 on the premise that even a small motion- like the flutter of a butterfly’s wings- can ignite a chain reaction for major change. In 2016, murals began popping up in cities across the nation, leading to a significant social media movement. The organization aims at giving people the opportunity to raise funds for charities unique to their interests and has raised over $61,000 to date. Definitely check out their website and Instagram page for more information and to find out how to become involved!