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Hey Boomer

Wendy Green

Guest Blog – Memoir of a Caterpillar

Every day, wisdomwell.modernelderacademy.com publishes a short blog sharing thoughts about aging, transitions, intergenerational collaboration and other pieces of wisdom. You can subscribe to Wisdom Well and receive these daily messages in your inbox. The below poem appeared in my inbox the other day, and I have permission to share it with you. It is a reflection on change and trying to hold on to what is familiar. How beautiful to let go and become what you are meant to be.

It was written by Pat Whitty, a certified health coach and workplace wellness consultant. He has been leading a 12-week course based on Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way. While doing his morning pages exercise, this poem just appeared, and he started writing it down.

Caterpillar

I like being a caterpillar.
It’s good to have 16 legs
And all the leaves I can eat.
Scaring kids is fun.
Makes me feel powerful.

But the elders tell me
That one day I will dissolve.
Quite an unpleasant thought
Horrifying actually

I do not want to do this.
I’ll just try to be a better caterpillar.
Maybe it will please the caterpillar Gods
And they will spare me this horrible fate.

They tell me that something wonderful
is waiting for me after I dissolve.
But, I don’t believe it
And I’m not going to do it.

I’m just going to be the best caterpillar I can be.

It’s getting harder to be a better caterpillar.
These legs don’t work like they used to.
My fellow caterpillars are treating me differently
And I feel as if I’ve been expelled from the caterpillar community.

I am lonely
I am angry

I’m not the same caterpillar I used to be.
OMG! I’m dissolving.
The elders told me this was going to happen.
I can stop it if I can work harder.

I’m going to the caterpillar gym
and get those legs back in shape.
I’ve always been the best caterpillar
And I’m not going to let go of that now.

What are those annoying creatures flying around with the colorful wings?

I may be a good caterpillar, but I can’t fly.
My parents told me that all things are NOT possible
So, I’ll forget about that
And keep trying to be a better caterpillar.

Why am I hanging upside down from this tree limb?
It’s dark in here.
After all that work in the caterpillar gym
I’m losing my core.
My beautiful abs are fading away.

My abs have always defined me
Admired by so many
Made me feel superior to the others
The girl caterpillars loved my abs.

I used to tell them they had great legs
They loved that.
That was my pickup line.
Worked every time.

But they don’t look at me the same way now.
What is happening to me?
Have I died?
I think so.

I don’t like it in here.
I’m trying to get out
But I can’t.
Getting weaker.

I’m losing a sense of who I am.
I’m scared.
I think this is the end.
It wasn’t supposed to end this way.

Is this how I’m going to spend the rest of my life?
Do I even have a life?
What happened to all of the dreams I had?
I was going to become the best caterpillar tap dancer of all time.

Not going to happen
With these feet.
What’s left of them.

I’m waking up.
Maybe this has been a bad dream.
I feel different.
Stronger

Somehow I feel like I’m not the same caterpillar.
Not even a better caterpillar.
Something different.

What are these things on my back?
Maybe I can shake them off.
I’m flying.
This is hard.

But, I’m getting the hang of it
As I look down at the other caterpillars
foraging for food on the leaves.

butterfly

I want to tell them what they have to look forward to.
I want to tell them not to be afraid.
I want to tell them to relax
And allow the transition that is their destiny to flow through them.

People are holding out their hands to me
And beckoning me to land.
They smile
And little children squeal with delight.

I am not lonely.

– Pat



2 Responses

  1. Pat and Wendy, this is beautiful and so filled with hope for all of us. Thank you for sharing, especially at a time when our lives and all around us are so fragile.

  2. Thank you for sharing this poem Wendy. It was a good reminder of the benefits of letting go of the old and accept the changes and like them too. I hope to get there. It reminded me of the book given to me back in 1983- called Hope for the Flowers, by Trina Paulus who wrote about caterpillars becoming butterflies too and the struggles they had in making the change. It was short with graphics and applicable to all readers like this poem. If we let go, we can see it brings freedom and joy.

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