Metamorphosis is beautiful. All transitions are. It seems like the most magical part of the life of the butterfly is when she knits the cocoon around herself and comes out transformed. But it isn’t all. It is also the most difficult part of her life. Then is a different struggle. A struggle that is internal. She has wings now, but no direction. From a wriggling insect, she is now a delicate creature of color. She is the same, but her world isn’t. She can’t ever hide again, for her wings will give away. She can never be the same again, not even in her reflections. Which of her existence should she believe? That of a worm on the twigs, struggling to eat, or that of a winged creature of the flowers? How can she ever relish the awe at her beauty, when she was scorned at the beginning of her life?
Existential crisis. I did read about it in the text books, and I aced the paper too. I know why it happens, and how one can cope up with it. I am fully prepared to deal with it, if I am that person’s therapist. But not if it is me. Trust me, now that I am dealing with it, I can add a lot more to the books. Have you ever felt that you are not sure of anything in your life, least of all your own self? All what you had thought of rush past you are still in the chaos of your own mind. You repeatedly instruct yourself to catch up, to go where you wanted to, but you just can’t move. everything around you seems like a haze, a reality that no longer holds the same value.
When I was a kid, I would day dream the entire time about being an adult. I felt that once I would be a grow up, I would be able to bring all my adventures of mind to the real life. But when I turned into one, I felt that I couldn’t get any of them to come true. All my dreams and hopes and wishes were suddenly turning into a heavy life support that was crushing me with its weight, but one without which I couldn’t live either.
I wanted to be all things great. But now, after some difficult but grateful years, I realize that what I truly want to be is just how I was as a five-year-old. I struggle at times but am undoing a lot of myself that the five-year-old me was taught. And it is getting a little easier because communicating with my own self is becoming clearer now. Firstly, I have started trusting myself a little. I know that if I feel disturbed at certain things around me, it is not because am jealous or insecure. It is because a part of me is struggling to come out but doesn’t know how. And now I just refuse to suppress it. For instance, I have always been crazy after animals. In India, the dogs on the street are mostly in a very bad state. I have grown up with street animals as a big part of my life. More like siblings that I never had. They were never pets for me, they were my very own. But after a lot of scolding, silent treatments, shaming, etc. that I received as a child because of it, I made my emotions discreet. As a teen I got further distracted. It was just my dogs at home that I mostly looked after. But then a couple of days back, I saw the amazing work a girl at my university had been doing for the animals. She had changed the entire landscape of dogs there. Her Instagram page had many supporters. I felt shallow and uncomfortable. I wondered if I was jealous. But I knew the problem ran deeper than that.
That instance reminded me of ‘The Light Bearers’, a ‘group’ I had made as an 8-year-old kid to rescue all stray dogs when I had come to my grand-mum’s home in the Christmas holidays. I had announced in my family that when I would be an adult, I would register it as my first NGO. I had made office cards out of colorful chart sheets for my cousin and I, and the unicorn was its logo. I had read a 565-page book on dog species and first aid and had made first aid kits referring to it for the animals on street.
My own memories put me to shame. I just wanted to do that kid justice who was waiting to grow up so that she could save all the animals after that. I immediately was thankful firstly for the spare money that I have ever since my break up 6 months back (my ex had been taking all my money the past 5 years and more). I thought I would survey all dogs in my neighborhood and see what I can do for them. That very day, I found an abandoned dog and her 5 pups right behind my house. I also realized that the dog in my street has just birthed another litter. Two male dogs have also shifted to near my home. Yes! I was extremely thankful that atleast they were close to me! The much-suppressed dog rescuer in me took no time to come back to life. I purchased tons of dog food, collars, coats and started talking to my neighbors about it. then I realized that two of the houses on my block had adopted two pups each from the street, drawing their inspiration from me! Apparently, they knew about my adopted dogs and felt rescued ones to be more suitable for them. I started updating my Instagram about it. The next day, a school friend from my early childhood texted me after many, many years. He said that the most prominent memory he had of me from school was me blabbering about dogs from near my home. He said, “some things never change”. Haha! It was a difficult transition, unearthing myself, but I was so happy to be doing it right.
It was just this morning that I was thinking about that maybe there is no fantasy in the future. Maybe the fantasy is now. The life that I dreamed of can be now. And if it can’t be now, I doubt it will be ever. I was promising to myself that I will respect myself by not measuring myself to unrealistic goals so that I stop running from them and complete the tasks at hand. I felt lighter for some time.
But now, I feel a void. A void that one feels after letting go of some blockages. It is supposed to be good, but the body was once forced to believe that the blockages and the negative constructs of the mind were a form of protection. I guess it is mourning that loss and learning to live with fewer defenses.
But what I do realize now is that the life that I am leading is the fantasy of a kid who all what she wanted to do was rescue this world. Every day, I try to find myself within me. I cry over, and then polish and fit the new puzzle pieces of myself that I discover. An existential crisis is a surreal journey.
Metamorphosis is truly beautiful. All transitions are. It is the most magical part of the life of the butterfly is when she knits the cocoon around herself and comes out transformed. She is delicate, yet invincible because she made her own wings. She doesn’t have to learn how to fly, she was destined to. Her very existence is a proof of all surreal possibilities. She is the same, and she will always be, for she was always a winged creature, even when she wasn’t.