It is just dark, the morning darkness that precedes every dawn, the stillness before the splash of the sun that becomes the light of day. This is the pause—the moment of stillness—before the stirring begins yet again.
Most mornings I immerse myself into the stillness—my meditative state I call it—for when I do, there is a shimmer to the day that seems to rub off onto me as well.
Yet, there are days upon leaving my sleep state that I am aware of a mind-body consensus considering “what if we just rest today” and not really awaken. Mind knows that skipping meditation means body will not have to stretch itself with yoga.
There is a cascade of memories—perfect in their replaying of such lazy pleasure—of what past days of rest have meant: comfort food, marathon movie watching, binge reading.
It is the escape offered to the day at hand. Almost always, I decline the escape route. But every time I do, there is an acknowledged appreciation for what that escape once meant. It remains an old friend rarely visited.
Instead, I sit and remember the warrior monarch butterfly, a true bodhisattva and a welcome memory on the mornings I hesitate to meditate. The complete metamorphosis of the butterfly reminds me why I meet each day I am given.
It is the butterfly who gives up one way of life after another—each stage fraught with life-ending possibilities—for to fly is to know the freedom of walking on air. From the stillness of the larva the caterpillar stirs to its search for sustenance, consuming one leaf after another.
There is a reward for all this eating, and it is not one of rest but rather it is the spinning of a pupa—the chrysalis—a chamber of life as tissue, limbs, and organs of a body that once crawled become a body that now flies.
No new life emerges until the old is transformed into what is necessary for the life that awaits.
And for the monarch warriors, there is a 2,500-mile migration critical to its survival, a quest that relies not on individual warrior monarchs but on all monarch warriors living their lives to ensure the species.
The monarch warrior moves through one form of life after another without wondering about the ways of existence. Such consideration falls within the realm of the human species.
We yearn to be like the monarchs, warriors working together, not singularly, to ensure our species survival. We might ache for metamorphosis but we do not easily let go of our accumulated experiences, especially those that seem to require so much of us.
“We don’t want to go through that again,” we say, which we won’t, of course, not exactly. Perhaps the monarch warrior does know this.
We want to spread our wings without changing who we are. We are agreeable to making necessary changes—an adjustment of our very being—as long as we are allowed to keep what is most dear.
We may not be as fearless or as selfless as the warrior monarch but we are just as connected to existence. We are born with the capacity for complexity rather than the singularity of purpose of the warrior monarch.
I have to wonder just what the warrior monarch might know for it is my nature to wonder. And so I do. On most mornings in the stillness before the stirring begins yet again.