I heard the sad news yesterday that artist/author Eric Carle had died. He was 91 years old.
His art made an impact on so many people. While you may not recognize his name right away, you know his work, in particular “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” (probably the best-known of his many beautiful works).
Carle lived a beautiful life, fulfilling a purpose so vast that perhaps he did not even envision it when he began. But as things unfolded, he chose to follow the path in which he could bring beauty to the world.
As a new, post-pandemic path begins to unfold for us, we get to choose what we’re going to do with circumstances: Do we move forward? Do we keep doing things the way we’ve always done them? Do we follow someone else’s directions because we don’t trust ourselves?
Drawing upon Eric Carle’s famous story, we were all “very hungry caterpillars” pre-pandemic, gobbling up everything life put in our path, often without an ounce of discernment. We just wanted to get to “the next…” whatever it was that we viewed in our path to success, fulfillment.
Funny, though, how we never reached the “full” part of fulfillment. And this year of solitary contemplation (some of us less solitary than others), we learned things about ourselves:
- Many of us can work from home/work remotely, and we taught ourselves how to make things happen without being part of a traffic snarl, spending lots of money on quick/empty-calorie meals, and other self-sacrificing activities.
- “I wish I could spend more time with my family” (or enjoying this home I live in, or prepare healthy meals, or whatever or “more time” wish was) was our reality.
- “Status” isn’t in the shoes we wear or the cars we drive or the hors d’oeuvres we serve at a dinner party; it’s in the way we treat the ones we love and care about, and how we spend our time and energy when we’re not sitting in an office or a car all day, every day.
- What we accepted as “normal” was anything but (anxiety should not be our go-to setting).
- We get to reinvent ourselves as we come out of this thing.
All the stuff we very hungry caterpillars consumed before we had a year to be still, fed us in the form of thoughts, contemplation, reflection. Not all of it was healthy, but it contributed to the “goo” we became when we stopped being caterpillars, running all over each other in the world, and settled into our coccoons for a little more than a year.
Now we have a choice: do we go back to our caterpillar lives? Or do we emerge with wings and view the world from a brand-new perspective?