Metamorphosis and the Fear of Flying

Photo Courtesy of entophile
I can't get off this butterfly kick. I visited the Butterfly Pavilion here in Denver the other day, and I got to go behind-the-scenes and learn even more about the process of metamorphosis. I even got to see the "hatching room," where butterflies make their transition from chrysalis into adulthood.

Did you know butterflies can't fly right when they hatch? Many people think this is because their wings are wet, but it's actually because their wings need to fill with a hardening fluid first. This fluid originates in the butterfly's belly, and it takes time for it to flow to the wings.

This "wing hardening" process may take several hours to complete. This is why newly hatched adult butterflies must pause and rest before they actually take flight.

Again, I find myself wondering about these butterflies. Do they have any idea what is happening to them? Are they nervous? Impatient? Excited?

It must feel liberating to finally be freed from that chrysalis, so it's easy to imagine butterflies stamping their feet in anticipation. But maybe right there, in that meditative moment between chrysalis and adulthood, the butterflies are actually reflecting on what has just happened to them.

Catching their breath. Gaining their courage. Preparing themselves to take a giant leap of faith.

Because a newly hatched butterfly has never flown before. It may think it has an equal chance of falling than of flying. But after some time, I imagine the "not-doing" becomes even scarier than the "doing."

As Anais Nin's quote says, “The day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”