Saturday, July 5, 2014

What I've learned from a little caterpillar

I was climbing the long flight of stairs (781 steps to be exact) up to a temple in Mae Salong, step by step instead of anticipating the beautiful view on top of the mountain waiting for me, breathe by breathe, focusing one step at a time, mindfully aware of my surrounding. I can’t help but to notice a small black little hairy caterpillar climbing along with me. Maybe I was curious, Karma knows I might have killed a lot of cats, not literally, taking the idioms from curiosity kills the cat.

I wasn’t sure where it was crawling, but my instinct told me it was heading the same way as me, towards the temple, I guess. Maybe the view attracted the caterpillar?

I stop and mesmerise by how this tiny little wonder crawling its way up, slowly, one tiny step at a time. That makes me to think. I’ve been dealing with grief lately, a friend of mine passed away recently, we were both born on the same year. What’s for me, upsetting is that he didn’t make it through his 34th birthday where someone like me whom was battling with cancer last year could be the one to go first. His death is too sudden and tragic so I took a break from my tea room for a trip up to the northern Thailand, where I always find peace. It’s like my sanctuary.

While the little caterpillar was still climbing, I can’t help but to wonder if we stop concentrating of what we have lost like anticipating the view on the mountain, but rather acknowledge how this friend of mine has live life to the fullest. Doesn't it makes sense that life is not subjected or defined by how long we live, but by how we make an impact to our surroundings, family and friends. I’m sure his friend like me will have a lot to say on how he touches our lives.

Also, part of me, selfishly, focus on my grieving, on what I've lost, fails to understand that this person doesn't belongs to me and his presence is not existential. Like as if no one but me experience grief before and yet we have yet to understand everyone was born to die.

Death/birth. Ending/beginning. Alone/together. Strength/weakness. Powerless/empowered. Active/passive. Tears/laughter. Anger/acceptance. Blindness/insight. Sweet/sour. Both/and. Or what if I’m suspended in threeness? Black, white, and gray? Or fourness? Denial, acceptance, avoidance, assent?

I echo Alice in Through the Looking Glass. “I can’t believe that,” she said to the Queen. In a pitying tone, the Queen replied, “Try again: draw a long breath and shut your eyes.” Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” Alice replied. “One can scarcely believe impossible things.” “I daresay, you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen.

I daresay I haven’t had much practice at any of this as well!

When caterpillar metamorphoses, it didn’t want the other caterpillars to feel sad for him. Instead every caterpillars know they will undergo through this process naturally. There are no pain, no sorrow, and no guilt. It merely is how nature works. No one can stop the metamorphosis. Death is just a temporary end of a temporary phenomenon.

Rather than stopping the caterpillar from metamorphosing, transforming into something beautiful and fly to a better place. I learn to let it go and let it be.

And for my friend, Gareth, like the caterpillar I saw, it is not the view that attracted the caterpillar but it’s the enlightenment towards the temple he might be seeking for…

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