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My 2020 Word: Metamorphosis

My 2020 Word: Metamorphosis

 

I was slow to jump on the word-of-the-year bandwagon. A lot of my friends love the idea but setting concrete goals and plans has always worked well for me – I didn’t see the point.

Last year I gave it a whirl just to see what the fuss is about. That’s when I realized that the yearly word has a different role to play than goals.

My yearly word helps me make sense of things – like an analogy to help me navigate the year. So as I look forward to the coming year, I’ve been reflecting on what’s coming and how to make sense of it.

My word for 2020 is METAMORPHOSIS.

Let me explain.

This fall we raised some butterflies from caterpillars. I learned a lot of things through the process:

  • start with eggs because of parasitic flies (do NOT google that unless you have a strong stomach)
  • monarchs’ migration is timed by daylight length (we actually learned this at a really interesting talk on the effects of light pollution while traveling through Glacier National park earlier this fall.)
  • be sure to secure your habitat from curious kitties
  • AND metamorphosis works completely different than I thought.


If you’re like me, you learned the butterfly life cycle as a kid.

-> Egg hatches to larva (caterpillar).

-> Larva grows and turns into a pupa (chrysalis).

-> Pupa hatches out as a butterfly.

Ok but HOW EXACTLY does the caterpillar turn into a butterfly? As a kid, it was obvious that a butterfly’s body looked like a caterpillar’s body. So I assumed that inside that chrysalis, the caterpillar sprouted wings and maybe molted skin to reveal a new color. Done.

Basically, I imagined that the caterpillar just got a costume change but stayed pretty much the same.

Wrong.

Inside the chrysalis, the caterpillar dissolves back into primordial goo. Then it reforms into a whole new creature from the goo.

This may not be the most scientifically accurate description, but it’s not too far off. According to Scientific American

“To become a butterfly, a caterpillar first digests itself. But certain groups of cells survive, turning the soup into eyes, wings, antennae and other adult structures.”

Whether you use scientific words like “digest” and “soup” or my less scientific terms like goo, the point is that this is not a simple or small process. It is a complete transformation.

 


So what does this have to do with my life?

Like the pupa inside the chrysalis, I’m at a point of major change. Don’t worry, I’m not giving up kidlit writing. (Never!) But a lot of other things in my life are radically transforming – for starters my long term contract projects are coming to an end and I’m looking for my next challenge.

In modern business buzzwords: I’m pivoting to a new career trajectory.

In my butterfly analogy: I’ve turned into goo and I’m rebuilding myself. And the process feels horribly messy and uncertain – much as I expect a butterfly feels. So like the butterfly, I’m having faith in the process.

By 2021, I expect to emerge as a butterfly. Probably I’ll be a little shaky and uncertain at first. But once I’ve had a chance to get used to my new form, I think it’ll be worthwhile. That’s important to remember right now as I slog through goo.

 

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