There's a jar hanging from a towel rack in my kitchen. It's one of those ball jars, not one of those bell jars, like in Edward Gorey's books... the little tailed lizard-thing stuffed and mounted under a bell jar. So, with a nylon stocking stretched over the top and held with a rubber band, there's this ball jar hanging around the kitchen. It's got a bunch of slightly wilted wild carrot leaves and a very nice caterpiller. We've been watching this caterpiller eat leaves and poop. That's all it's been doing. I hung it from the towel rack so it wouldn't get jostled by me washing dishes.
Well now it's not even doing that. It's getting shorter and much, much slower. It's becoming something extremely different, in all the various categories you'd want to bring up. At first you get the idea that it's just sitting there, but if you sit there with it, thinking about the wilted leaves and the poop below, why you'd have to start thinking about Life, the Universe and maybe why the Buddah is like a bag of poop. Or you might start writing Zen poetry like some kind of crazy enlightened Ferlinghetti... be it as it may, it would be a very busy or un-busy time for a soul to be swimming in. So think about this short, green guy hanging on to what he knows, thinking about how if you could just Think about Yourself a different Way, you could Transform Yourself, without losing Your Self.
The thing that's important to recall is that We know it to be True, because it's happening in a ball jar hanging from my towel rack. I have seen it happen before. The Old Man doesn't wake up and a beautiful butterfly remains. A beautiful winged version of itself will rise up, embrace the suns rays and fly away, to some other transformation.
My quiet, powerful sisiter in law is , or may have been, rising from a form to another as we speak. She, too, grew slower and shorter. I think she grew more thoughtful, but unable to speak her growing thoughts. Like that caterpiller, I could not understand what she felt inside, but I know it changed her because I have seen it before. The Old Man doesn't wake up and they close His House. But somewhere there is a new shape flying. We may not even be able to see it's colors or form with our unchanged eyes, but if our hearts are changed by that other transformation, then we can imagine.
In my universe change means Life and Life without Change is something more like poop. It wilts the leaves.
When I first came to this area from the desert, it was in early Autumn, a time of year sacred to the sense of plenty. There were plenty of colors and everything smelled of change. It was somehow very envigorating to see those leaves, and yet had I visited in January I'm not sure that it would have been envigorating per se, but certainly exciting. But never sad, never regretful per se. There is always the "what-ifs" like a game I played when I was 3 or 4. I played it rather a lot and it started to piss off my sisters, because whatever they answered I would produce another question of "What would you do if...?" Now think about an infinite brother and sister going at it over an infinite time and you get a sense of the energies and potential for envigorating a region of Change can be. If Change becomes a Transformation, then a more beautiful, more transcendent Presence is Understood, is Perceived. In a stable infinte universe all elements, all presences, must be equally perceived. But stability is an anathma to Life, so in a Living Infinite Universe there must be Transformation as well as Change. So the butterfly at first may be thinking mostly about controlling those huge freaking wings, especially in a wind.
We go from creating great art and great literature, to being transformed into a flippant thing thinking always about itself. So there is a form of balence made manifest. And a certain kind of energy is seen descending. Or perceived as descending. Like those penny whistles you pulled the rod and the tone went down and in cartoons they used this noise to indicate something descending. There is a parallel Tone going up and if you think about how your heart skips a beat when you watch a butterfly poised for its first flight... how it was so beautiful flitting away to the next leaf, that energy you felt envigorating you was creative energy being released.
I mean, it's hard to think of those flight maneuvers being somehow coded into the wingstems so it could continue to write Beat poetry....undisturbed by flying. What would be the Point to that? All that Change without Transformation somehow envigorates you in a different Way.
And some thought has to be given to the Shell that the Butterfly leaves Behind. It, too, is beautiful and fragile and eventually changes into the Earth. We all of us change into the earth. In the mean time I suppose I will flit from leaf to leaf and try to control those wings of thought that propell me forward, to use a metaphor.
Sometimes the flitting is imposed on from outside, like those settlers in Gaza. Or like a colony of MRSA, passed on from patient to nurse to patient to doctor, to lots of folks. It reminds me of a film I saw in first grade about how cold germs passed from football to people as white X's. Still, those MRSA colonies are made of living things who have gone through all kinds of near extinctions by the best antibiotics we could devise. A thousand plagues were rained down from above and below at these guys and still they raise their kids and still they grow and have a dream, maybe several. They are survivors, yet they are moved from patient to nurse to patient without a way of remaining somewhere, of finding a home. They know the universe is after them because they have their History, and every generation is given this knowlege, how to survive, how to grow, and maybe even how to die.
We spend a lot of time sometimes on imposing changes instead of understanding transformation. I suspect that may be why there are so many ways we have devised to deal with the shells we leave behind.