Remember how incredible it was during the pandemic? How we were tucked into our cocoons, sometimes alone, sometimes with another person? Like when you’re sharing a tent and having separate sleeping bags but now and then you unzip enough to stick out a leg or an arm and touch him beside you.
First, remember how we were all trying to figure out how to get out? All we wanted was to get out. We were trapped! Isolated. Claustrophobic. Lonely. How dare you put me into this cocoon, I don’t want to be here in the first place! I hate this get me out of here get me back to normal.
Normal. Hair cuts and movie theaters and groups and hugs and school. We said we would never complain about our commute or the price of daycare ever again if you just let us out!
And then. Some of us got still. Remember? Stopped hyperventilating. Stopped panicking. Some of us looked around and realized that we weren’t in cages, we were in incubators. Incubating in the juices made of what we are made of without the influence of the world. Strength. Love. Goodness. We weren’t trapped, unable to escape. We were protected, safe, waiting.
And so we waited. We sometimes thought we were festering. Depression and anxiety showed up in new ways. Medications were adjusted over Zoom. Relationships and jobs analyzed. Hands washed and cracked. We had to turn into soup. Remember how scary it was? We didn’t know if we’d get put back together again.
When it got desperate, we tried to reenter before we were ready. Some of us saw those who had raged and escaped and thought they might have the right idea. They went back to their old life. It is hard to remember them.
But some of us realized the world was not the same. We realized that some things were able to penetrate even our safe cocoons: racism, violence, greed, disparity. But they mixed with our juices, creating outrage, for which we were being designed to turn into hope. And we continued to be quiet.
Some of us developed faster than others. Remember when you saw the first butterfly emerging? Beautiful and designed for the new world: angry and hopeful and ready to see the world as it is, not as we want it to be, and that we have the power to unite those visions.
Those who had escaped early from their cocoons were jealous. Another thing to rage against. The butterflies tried to soothe them. Some listened, put on their masks, and went still. It wasn’t too late to cocoon, not yet.
Some of us in our cocoons saw them and tried to rush to join them. Remember how you longed to be ready? We raged when we learned we weren’t ready. We were still soup, not quite fully formed yet. We raged with defensiveness and visits to the salon. But some of us got quiet again.
Some of us still curl in our cocoons, waiting for our time to be right. We can now see both the butterflies, free and leading the way, but we can also see the raging worms. We know we want to be a butterfly, but it is tempting to escape early. To stay as we were. Because at least the worms are out there, in the world, not enclosed with only their thoughts and dreams and despairs and anger and fear.
But soon the sun will bake the worms and the birds will eat them and they will shrivel up with their old ideas and way of being. And those who have been still, will take another deep breath, trust in the elixir of patience and love and hope and our own self to turn us into butterflies.
Thanks to Laurie Wagner’s Wild Writing Family for the inspiration. She read the poem “The Pandemic Halo” by Jime Moore and then sent us on our way for 15 minutes. My jumbled free-write turned into this post, with a little polishing and fussing.