LIFE LESSONS FROM A CATERPILLAR

What Do You Expect?

Do you have lots of expectations? You know, the times when your mind twirls and swirls about a situation or goal. Frantically working out what would happen next based on the “facts”, figures and the past.

Of course, in the case of expectations, it’s often a case of what we feel should happen next! How a situation should turn out, how people should behave, and so on.

Being a pretty logical person, that’s the way I used to work. 1 plus 1 must be equal to 2, it cannot be anything else. Stay within the boundaries of logic, that’s what I always thought.

Well, but things have changed drastically for me since I started taking a different path in my perception of the world around me. A more heart-based one I might add, to balance my very logical mind. It all started around the time that a caterpillar appeared on my front gate. That was a marker of sorts.

A Different Way

Today, I’m able to let go of many expectations with more peace in my heart. I remind myself that if something works out, well, that’s wonderful. If it doesn’t go my way, I admit I’ll feel disappointed, and even irritated at times.

But at the back of my mind, I realize there’s a reason for it. After digging as deep as those fellows who dig for oil, I do discover the true reasons. I’ll let my caterpillar story tell you the rest.

The Caterpillar Appears

In Malaysia, it can frequently get scorching hot and it was one of those hot days around 2015. On my way out of the house, I stared in disbelief at a caterpillar on my sizzling hot gate, basking under the boiling sun. I mean, even I thought the metal gate would feel very hot to my touch.

“No way was that little fellow going to make it”, I thought to myself. So I decided to move it to the some green shade but trying to gently pry it from the gate didn’t work. Plus, I was afraid I might hurt it if I used force. I decided to leave it to fate. My expectation was it would be in a “caterpillar coffin” soon enough.

But two days later the grub was still there! Puzzled, I still expected a funeral service soon enough, but strangely, that still didn’t happen.

Was It Still Alive?

I was in conflict the next few days. Something was obviously still stuck to my gate. It bore no resemblance to that chubby caterpillar anymore. Had it started to dry up? I certainly didn’t expect it to progress to its next stage of life.

Admittedly, I could have taken shots of it and asked some nature lovers about what was happening. But you see my expectation was that it would never make it. My bad.

Eventually it became apparent that it was a cocoon. My logical mind started to shift into active mode with all sorts of questions and theories. “Is it really alive on a scorching metal gate? No way! Should I just flick it aside? It’s impossible that there could be anything happening at all.”

My expectation was still that I would be scrapping it off the gate very soon.

According to experts, the pupa inside the cocoon is an extremely busy fellow at this stage. It would be busy, busy – transforming from a short chubby body to a beautiful one with wings. This is the ‘metamorphosis’.

Patience Pays Off

Yet, since I could not see any of what could be happening inside, I doubted there was anything going on at all. You don’t believe what you can’t see with your two eyes, right?

I would look at it constantly, wondering if it was time remove it. Yet, everyday, I would say to myself, “I’ll decide tomorrow.” I never had the heart to totally give up on it. And then it happened.

Early one cool morning, I saw it. A beautiful butterfly delicately perched on its old cocoon. I stared in disbelief. I was now so glad that I had waited and had not given in to the earlier temptation to scrape it off the gate.

I tried to take a shot of this special butterfly that had taught me a lesson. Teasing me, it flitted away. But it left behind an incredibly huge lesson for me to this day: life does not always turn out the way I expect it to.

Ready To Let Go Of Expectations?

How many times in life did you want to give up? Maybe because you expected a different outcome, based on your logical reasoning?

Life has much to offer, if we push aside our expectations. Remember the cocoon. There’re lots of things going on, stuff we cannot see. That’s how life is as well.

So, do you still want to cling on to expectations?

Me? Not anymore.

Sheela Prabhakaran is a writer and trainer who has a keen interest in people and nature. Her career started out in publishing followed by many years in Corporate Communication. Over time she has reached out to people of all walks of life through copywriting, writing books and articles. Her training experience includes Business English and Communication. She has embarked on an exciting new spiritual journey which sees her exploring more ways to share ideas on leading a healthier and happier life. She can be reached at sheelaprabha@gmail.com