Tell a pollywog they will never have a voice and then listen as one day his ribbits reverberate out into the atmosphere.
Call a caterpillar a slimy awkward ungainly creature then witness her fly on delicate wings that seem to have been painted by the gods.
Stay with me, readers. There’s a decent metaphor to unravel.
We adults ask children quite regularly, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”We, who’ve been raised in the global North, are bred with aspirations to be “something else” early on. It’s agreed upon in our culture that our youth conjure up older versions of themselves in the hopes of stepping into those shoes. Sometimes kids change their minds, too. No one would admonish a seven-year-old when she responds with “–a mermaid!” one month and “–a nurse!” the following.
What I find super interesting is how kids think they are able to DO just about anything. A child can watch an Olympic ice skater on the television screen and say with certainty, “Oh, I can do that!” even if they’ve never seen an ice rink except in person.
Perhaps, the difference between adults with preconceived limitations and children with wild imaginations is that kids believe they can be or do anything– even having never tried the thing. Thus, they impose no self-limitation. As we mature, those limitations manage to emerge without invitation. We don’t believe we can do anything anymore because anything is swallowed up by everything we must do to be adults. Like make dinner. Shovel snow. Earn money.
As we age, we become more self-aware, and that means we face our limitations. To be fair, they are real. Our reason stares into the eyes of our hopes–and when that happens, we either back away from the hopes, or kick logic to the curb. Only a select few will fly on painted wings after a lifetime of squirming an inch forward at a time. We either believe we are of that select few or we don’t.
Obviously, the pollywog need not have faith in order to transform and transcend his original limitations. He will, organically, become all that he’s meant to be. We, on the other hand, may fall to shit if we don’t work against entropy. We absolutely must set our intentions to stay healthy, choose to proactively work towards fitness, intelligence, personal goals and spiritual aspirations. If we don’t, many of us will end up fat, lazy, unproductive and tired, tired of life. That’s just on the outside. On the inside, if we shut down our possibilities and concede to our limitations, we die a little bit each day. Our internal world needs just as much thought and intention as our external physical beings.
The tadpole’s transformation from the murky muddy pond creature to the talkative amphibian may not warrant any mental capacity, but it does require a proper environment for growth. Water. Lily pads. Algae, without which, he may not turn to toad. I think this is where the metaphor can really hit home for us human beings.
Proper surroundings are key for frogs to grow, butterflies to hatch, children to flourish and finally, adults to transform and thrive. Our limitations would be less paralyzing if we provided ourselves suitable environment.
The first necessary condition towards successful growth is belief.
Brain research is proving our need for positive thought to surpass our negative messaging. So, isn’t it odd that the most vital component of a proper environment is internal?
Nelson Mandela, who was imprisoned for 27 years, has written books, practically volumes, on maintaining that internal flame of hope. His aim was no small goal! Ending apartheid was an epic ambition, seemed impossible, and warranted energy from many more besides himself, but he never let go of believing in possibility. He stared down those limitations, he fought those doubts, he never gave into despair. During his stay in prison, Mandela even fought to improve poor conditions in the system, and won. His influence after those decades in prison was even more impactful than before his sentence. He transformed those years of unfair, unjust punishment into productive lessons on perseverance for what he believed in. External circumstances proved impossible, but internally, Mandela cultivated his faith.
So, the first and most important step to transformation is in your mind. After that, I think it might take some discernment to parse out what is a real limitation and what is self-imposed or a learned belief. All of this is in your head, also. Call that Step 2: Identifying real limitation vs. imagined. (For example, I will not be joining the dancers of The American Ballet Theatre even if I lose 30 pounds because I’m 55 years old! That ship has sailed, but there are many that have not, such as joining a ballet class or installing a fitness pole in my living room for dancing at any age.)
Figuring out your function is the 3rd step, yes, inside the noggin, yet again. The frog instinctively knows his function in the universe, in the long chain of beings that keep our ecosystems thriving. Pollywogs transform into frogs, whose role is central in controlling the insect population. What is the function that we serve in our mini-universes? What might our contribution to the whole look like?
What is the fundamental fruit of our mission? If it is for personal joy, that is indeed valid. It could be to help others, to bring others joy, to spread awareness, to set an example. Knowing WHY we are calling upon the great powers of Creativity will keep us driven to meet our ultimate hopes and goals.
Recalling our childhood attitudes, before we considered what society and others thought of us, is a great exercise in discovering our mission, or function. Mirroring nature, by taking a page out of the frog’s playbook, or just trusting in the process as we set our intention will allow hope to emerge among the doubt and inspire us for each new stage.
So, steps 1, 2, & 3 are all inside our minds, and will take time; process is key to any transformation.
- Believe in our capacity to change
- Decide what limitations are real and what possibilities are real
- Determine our function.
The force of Creativity is always at work in nature as well as the stars; it’s at work in our minds, as well as in our bodies. To draw upon this phenomenon is natural. We are wired to activate the power of transformation through our Creative faculties. Our brains hunger for problem solving and feed off new thought, new routines and new challenges.
I believe we, like a fresh little frog, can each find our voice. I do believe in those painted wings of the butterfly. Possibilities beg for our attention and faith. I believe that even if our wings are invisible, they will take us to new heights as individuals which will then cause our societies to soar.
Imagine that, with me, will you?
Learn more about Rene’s writing and creativity books that are available for purchase.