It digests itself.
Transformation is the messy work that the dissatisfied soul yearns for.
Perhaps intentional transformation is not for everyone. We transform throughout our lives regardless of whether or not we do it consciously or with intention. For some of us, that’s more than enough change. Others look at the world, then look in the mirror, and see a need to create a meaningful difference.
One year ago, I was in the final weeks of preparation for the welcoming almost 2000 people to the 2018 Health:Further Festival and Nashville Soccer Club was in an intense campaign for a soccer-specific stadium at the fairgrounds to be passed in Nashville’s City Council. When you’re in the middle of a storm running on adrenaline, you don’t know how much damage the stress is having on your well-being, but you can sense it isn’t good.
By September, when the festival and the big vote were completed, I was a burned-out mess.
It’s hard to overstate how different my life is today from that time one year ago. All the most important things in my life are not just intact but in much better shape now. The health of my ventures, my most important relationships, and my well-being are all in a far superior place now. This improvement has come about because of an ongoing, intentional transformation. You can’t always avoid the storms in your life, but you can stop chasing them.
One thing stands out about this transformation as I reflect on it over the last year. There was a moment of despair that served as the catalyst.
I won’t say I hit rock bottom, but the formula I was using to live my life started showing all of its limitations at once. From my choices in business model to my methods of coping with stress, nothing was working very well, and I had to come to terms with that.
I didn’t have a clear vision of what life could be like after a transformation, or what I needed to do to transform, only that what I was doing wasn’t working and needed to change.
I don’t think I understood at the time, but my willingness to admit the need to change was probably a life and death decision. Not that somehow I was going to immediately implode or anything, but rather that I was at a fork in the road. I was going to either dig in my heels on who I saw myself as or be open to the possibility that everything I had become until that point was only to prepare me for a greater version of myself that I hadn’t considered yet.
I knew how I felt, and I didn’t feel great. I knew that I had to start living differently to start feeling better. I knew I was going to have to go through a transformation, and that it would not be easy.
Now, after almost nine months of sobriety and four months of daily meditation, I’m in a fascinating seat. The first two months without alcohol sucked. By month three, I started feeling better. When I added meditation, that gave me a whole new dimension, and I began to get real clarity. My purpose emerged through that clarity.
And now, with a new baseline, things are honestly getting a little weird. I’m feeling a new kind of uncomfortableness in my transformation. Recognizing how many external forces ask for space in my life that are anything but good for me. Observing my thoughts and how erratic they can be. Seeing just how hard it is to stay on task. To do what I set out to do. To be in control of what I do.
I honestly can’t believe how much I’ve gotten done considering that my mind was unchecked for so long. I’m patiently working to strip the noise out of my life to get a clearer signal. And there is a lot of noise.
I’m becoming much more aware of my emotions and trying my best to respect them and process them in a healthy way. I’m opting out of commitments that don’t align with my purpose or vision and creating new space. I’m seeing where my actions betray my intent.
I’ve found that it’s work to create space. It takes effort to stop doing things. It’s hard.
I’m starting to see the habit that was at the heart of a lot of my storm chasing; striving. I’m learning to live in a place somewhere between diligence and effortlessness.
It’s just uncomfortable and feels like a slog. Not working is harder than it looks for a workaholic.
It’s cliché, but feeling a bit lost I looked up the process of how a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. It seems nature gave us this phenomenon as a master class on transformation, so I wanted to dig into it. I found this article on Scientific American, and it made me sit straight up because this paragraph feels exactly like what I’m going through right now.
“First, the caterpillar digests itself, releasing enzymes to dissolve all of its tissues. If you were to cut open a cocoon or chrysalis at just the right time, caterpillar soup would ooze out. But the contents of the pupa are not entirely an amorphous mess. Certain highly organized groups of cells known as imaginal discs survive the digestive process. Before hatching, when a caterpillar is still developing inside its egg, it grows an imaginal disc for each of the adult body parts it will need as a mature butterfly or moth—discs for its eyes, for its wings, its legs and so on.”
- The caterpillar digests itself.
- It releases enzymes to dissolve all of its tissues.
- Before hatching… it grows an “imaginal disc” for each of the adult body parts it will need as a mature butterfly.
Those are the words for what I’m feeling.
I’m not a butterfly yet. More like caterpillar soup. I am digesting myself. Slowly but surely transforming.
Now is probably a good time to remember to be patient and compassionate, yet vigilant.
Maybe you’re going through something similar or have in the past. Either way, uncomfortable as it is, it’s helpful to know we aren’t going through it alone. All the cool butterflies are doing it.
Have a grateful day.