When’s the last time you picked up a caterpillar?

I know we learned about them when we were kids—but really—let’s remember how cool these little guys really are!

When I felt the little prickly and sticky feet of the caterpillar move across my palm it hit me— I haven’t stopped to think about caterpillars in years, let alone play with one. I don’t know when I stopped being curious about the little bugs in life, but backpacking through the mountains out here really let me get back into it. Like finding this guy —

Trail Journal-Hawkmoths

He looks so cool! Bright colors, spots, and A HORN. It may be on his backside, but whatever, it still has a horn. AND, it’s litte feet are really fun to feel as they walk across your hand. This is a Hawk Moth, not sure of the species, but this might be what it looks like as a moth. Crazy.

I honestly forgot that caterpillars completely reinvent themselves. Wings, long legs, and a head that doesn’t look like their other end— the whole cocoon story — it is so radical!

The more I thought about it, especially when I started watching videos of it to write this blog post, the more I realized metamorphosis blows my mind. The ability for one little creature to repeatedly, completely change, going from a tiny egg, to a larvae, to a pupa, and to an adult. My inner five-year-old is still blown away by just watching everything change. And I get totally creeped out at things like ladybug larvae. But let’s take a minute to remember how transformational life can be! This video is best after 2:30 into it.

Total Metamorphosis from john dunstan.

After spending hours watching videos and looking at photos of larvae and metamorphosis, I think I realized why this is so cool for me…

We, as humans, go through all our major changes for physical development before we are born. Life would be cooler and probably less awkward if as teenagers we built a cocoon to morph into adults, but we lost our morphing ability a long time ago (probably when we evolved away from amphibians).

Therefore, we look pretty much the same from the day we are born until when we die. I think this strong image of ourselves remaining consistently the same affects us physiologically— we fail to see ourselves capable of massive change. As individuals, we can look back in our life and see all the changes we’ve made, but when we turn to imagine our future, we have a habit of failing to assume that our lives will change. We picture ourselves the way we are now — maybe with glasses and gray hair — but believing in the same things and living largely unchanged.

Seeing these little friends radically transform everything in their lives reminds me that we all have an amazing capacity for radical change. We may not sprout wings, but life is full of constant change, and we can transform our lives if we want to.