Beginnings

Two caterpillars.

Caterpillar.

We have plenty of clichés that address the topic, for example:

Don’t judge a book by its cover.

Or:

All that glitters is not gold.

Or, more bluntly:

Looks can be deceiving.

But what these caterpillars are saying with their spikes and their creepy colors is pretty straightforward:

DON’T EAT ME. I MIGHT BE POISONOUS.

Human beings have a developmental stage that utilizes a form of protective coloration too. Why are infants and toddlers so cute? So we won’t abandon them.

Starting with the appearance of the caterpillar, it is truly impossible to predict what the butterfly will look like when it emerges from the chrysalis. The before and after pictures often bear no resemblance to one another: color, shape, size—all radically different. The transformation is so complete that, unless you see the whole cycle with your own eyes, it seems utterly preposterous. (How did this goofy scheme evolve, anyway?)

Most of the time, the way a story starts out has a lot to do with how it ends up. Most of the time, your first impression of a person gets a lot about them right. Most of the time, the lemon is sour and the cherry is sweet.

But it is vitally important to remember that things don’t always develop the way you expect. Stories can take an unexpected turn. People can change, profoundly. Some lemons are sweet; some cherries are sour.

You, too, could be on your way to something that appears utterly unrelated to your present state. Maybe it’s time to shed your protective “don’t eat me!” coloration or your “just foliage here, move along!” camouflage, to break out of your safe and private cocoon of becoming—time to spread your glorious, unafraid, brightly-colored and wildly-marked wings and take to the sky.

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