I feel like Alice. Sucked down the rabbit hole into the impossible madness and insanity that is this current crazy wonderland. Like Alice, I am finding it increasingly difficult to navigate the incohesive and incoherent
pathways through the maddening forest. Alice encounters the Caterpillar and he asks her “Who are you?”
Alice replies, “I hardly know at the moment.”
Yep. Pretty apt right now.
The Caterpillar had been thought to be a representation of the drug culture since Lewis Carroll has him smoking a hookah and talking about eating magic mushrooms, but a better interpretation is that he is a lackadasical, almost apathetic guru. He tries to get Alice to figure out who she really is and in the end, tells her about the mushroom to help her get bigger or smaller. He tries to teach her to cope with her difficult surroundings. The Caterpillar also reminds Alice that changing in size and shape isn’t always a bad thing – after all, one day the Caterpillar will metamorphose into a butterfly.
There are countless references to the caterpillar metamorphosis analogy. There are a number of religious references as well as tons of “motivational” posters about keeping your head up, you will eventually get to be beautiful/successful/awesome/whatever. It represents new life, a better situation, and having finaly “made it”. I say poop (or maybe frass?).
I choose to see the caterpillar a little differently. The caterpillar is always growing, changing, evolving. That larval stage is beautiful in itself (have you seen some of the beautiful pictures from the Caterpillar Lab?). Once the caterpillar reaches the butterfly stage, that’s it. You can make some reference to the fact that now it can happily reproduce, but it will no longer grow. It will no longer feed or develop. In fact, for most Lepidoptera, the longest period in the life stage is the caterpillar, the adult lives for a very short period of time. While the adult butterfly has one purpose (find a friend, get busy), caterpillars often have very cool mutualistic relationships.
So for all you caterpillars out there, I say: it’s okay. Even in this current ludicrous wonderland I feel like I am in, I choose to be a caterpillar. I choose to continue to grow and evolve. I choose not to stop, not to stagnate, and to continue crawling onward. I may be feeling like Alice right now, not quite knowing who I am or where I am going, but I will be the Caterpillar, asking questions, demanding answers, growing, and going.
And of course, always spreading the entomological awesomeness. How ’bout you?
But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”
― Lewis Carroll,