I find that I am birthing myself anew. Living quite a different life, being quite a different person, and emerging from a cocoon, as though someone else. I have left the shelter that has sheathed me and have set off, with new colors, even totting wings. But I still certainly have that hint of myself, the one I had encased, the one that had gone through a muddied past, crawling on the ground, inching to the tree, and becoming green froth, just the day before I earned my wings. Can you be entirely new? Can you wholly cast aside a past? I am new, yet still old.
I recently had to say goodbye to a number of things: people, places, events, and certainly a great deal of me. My cousin had to leave for Down Under. We could have been twins, bumping into each other even whilst in our mothers’ wombs. I write of the past and there’s no space without her. And yet, she now had to set sail. It felt like saluting bon voyage to a chunk of me. And then there’s retiring from an accustomed life. Incidents kept bearing me onto a life that was unlike my status quo. And somehow, I gave myself permission to be carried away by the currents. It lulled me to sleep, as though being cradled, in a womb; a place I strangely recognized was home. And ironically, as I found my new life, I knew I was really just coming back. My newfound joys led me back to me again. Does that make sense?
We lose ourselves to the humdrum of life. We lose track of friends. We even shut our memories. We lose our hold on things that gave us so much joy. We’re terrified to be children again. Dodge our joie de vivre. So we live our tedious and monotonous everyday, believing we are now someone else. Yet little things pop up, spring to light, and tacitly handing us snippets of the bliss we once had. I was scared of too much joy, too much intoxication, too much of the child in me. I chose to dull it with the ordinary, with routine, no good ole days coming back to haunt me, nothing new either. I even cast my emerging self to others, grandiose qualities flung to people outside me, not me. But now I realize, we should never run away from ourselves. We should always embrace the child in us, the adolescent in us, that woman we once were, before marriage, before children, before all this humdrum of an ordinary life. And not only that, we should always take in the new, the gift of new life emerging, just as we welcome the child that comes after a grueling nine months, just as we recognize the splendor that emerges from the brown icky cocoon.
Nature offers us dozens of clues on the cycles of trauma and transformation. She does not hamper the metamorphosis of the cocoon. She does not hinder the new that pierces the oyster shell. She does not. And so, the butterfly unfolds. And so, the pearl is created. Still, unlike butterflies and pearls, our metamorphosis is not indubitable. The choice to swathe ourselves with the new and take on the uncharted; the choice for transfiguration; the choice to transform past darkness to emerging light; this cycle of rebirth, is uniquely ours to make. Draw another breath or die. Or better yet, die but live again. And so, we just might have to go on all fours in search of food. And so, life will want to sheath us with the cocoon. You can choose to stay there. It is snug, comfortable and reassuring, nothing to harm you, and a whole world going on outside without you. You can choose to get out early, when you’re not yet ripe and you come our haphazard, one wing broken, almost not quite. Or can also choose to take the pain of birthing, welcome the unknown, a whole new you coming forth to embody your old. It takes courage to go from the trustworthy ground you have walked on all your life. It takes courage to take the uncertainty of a new sheath, enclosing on you, molting, you can’t barely move. But it is boldness that will empower you to be engulfed by your old and new. It is boldness that will give you the means to emerge with wings, fly, and yet still be that spiny, fuzzy, prickly you.
Human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Love in the Time of Cholera