Transformation Isn’t an Object

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I remember Mr. Bartlett.  In biology class he discusses the transformation of caterpillar into butterfly.  “What’s the process that goes on inside a cocoon?” he asks.  “Has anyone ever seen a picture of the insect at the halfway point between caterpillar and butterfly?  Does anyone know what it looks like?”  No one has or does.  The next week, Mr. Bartlett finds a cocoon in the woods and brings it to the classroom.  We crowd around as he takes a razor blade and neatly slices it in two.  The cocoon looks empty.

“There’s nothing in there,” says one of the kids.

“Oh, it’s in there,” says Mr. Bartlett.  “It just doesn’t have a shape right now.  The living, organic material is spun right into the cocoon.  Caterpillar is gone; butterfly is yet to come.”  We stare in wonder.

“Real transformation,” says Mr. Bartlett, “means giving up one form before you have another.  It requires the willingness to be nothing for a while.”

From Too Much Is Not Enough, by Orson Bean, Chapter II, Page 33.

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