Dead Caterpillars

“Lies were lethal, however honourable the intentions of the liar. They deprived people of the opportunity to know the basic facts of their own lives. ” ~ Sophie Hannah, Little Face

As a little girl, I collected caterpillars.  Armed with my mason jar stuffed with fresh green leaves plucked from the trees, I ran through the back yard with bare feet hunting for silky caterpillars that inched along in ignorance.  Upon my joy of catching one, I’d sit on the cement front steps and wait for it to transform into a butterfly.  I wanted to see the magic.  I’d watch until my mother called me in for bed and rush out the next morning to spend more hours entranced by the beauty that was in my captivation. 

They always died and a little piece of guilt for killing its potential lodged in my soul. 

Truth is that rare caterpillar that creeps along, unaware of the future.  Our tendency is to ignore it.  When we do acknowledge it, we chose not to share it with the world, but instead, we catch it in a jar and tuck it away in the basement of our soul.  In the dank dark it withers until it’s nothing but the remains of potential.

It’s not the truths about other people that we bottle up.  Those are quick and easy to point out, so we let them fly free and watch in awe.   

Rather, truths about ourselves that we want hidden away.

Sometimes, we find ourselves desperate to hide our truths.  Those times usually start with one simple misrepresentation that continues under the guise of, “I didn’t want to hurt you”. When in truth, we don’t want to acknowledge the existence of our deformed caterpillars, our unattractive truths.  We don’t trust that other’s will be kind, maybe even accepting. Instead, we stash it away before it’s discovered. 

What we don’t realize is that even ugly caterpillars can turn into butterflies.  Ah, but we’ll never know once they’re dead. There is no bringing caterpillars back to life, as much as I wanted to when I discovered mine dead in the jar.

We deny others the chance to see a butterfly through our own selfish shame and the worst place to be is on the receiving end of mis-truths.  When someone doesn’t deem you worthy, whether they think you too fragile or stupid doesn’t matter.  They know their truths will hurt you, so instead, you become an object of their pity. Pity because, in truth, you were unworthy of the truth.

Lisa has a whole basement of dead caterpillars.  She hasn’t stopped collecting them, afraid of what the world will think.  That perhaps people will come to find her unreliable or untrustworthy.  They might even see her as weak.  She’s fought too hard to let her work fall to ruin because she allowed herself vulnerability.  So, she kills the potential of truths set free and in the process, kills her potential to trust. 

What Lisa doesn’t realize is that trust isn’t something that you work for, nor is it earned.  Trust is a natural consequence of the life you live.  And the least trustworthy people are those with dead caterpillars in their basement.  The one’s who mumble about not finding anyone to trust. They are the ones you can trust the least.  People willing to hide truths in the basement are afraid to be honest.  You earn what you get and you get what you earn.  For all the work she’s gone through to prove herself, she’s perplexed and asking, “Why isn’t it enough?  What more can I do?”

I have an ending.  It came to me last night as I closed my laptop with frustration.  It’s not going to be easy on Lisa, but nothing worthwhile ever is.   I believe it’s time to trust Lisa with the truth.  Let her see butterflies. “Don’t waste your pity on her, she’s now what at heart she always was.” That’s what W. Somerset said in “The Razor’s Edge”.  Let’s hope the same holds true for Lisa.

It takes courage, and honesty, to be free. 

“…it is truth that liberates, not your effort to be free.”
Jiddu Krishnamurti


About author A. Lynn

A. Lynn has enjoyed the craft of writing since she finished the songs in Barry Manilow's songs as a five year old, prancing around her grandparents rural farm. Her style has changed as she's grown up. In the past ten years, she's experimented until finding her style and voice. Now, she's ready to take an effort to share her stories with the world. View all posts by author A. Lynn

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