July 23, 2024

Again, this pandemic has given us more time to think, hope, and pray that things will get better and better. I am reminded of a book of Trina Paulus I read a long time ago, entitled, “Hope for the Flowers.” It is a story of two caterpillars, Stripe and Yellow, and their search to reach the mysterious apex of success. In our case, it is our search for the end of the pandemic.
The story begins with Stripe. He ate and slept until he grew big and started to ask, “There must be more to life” than just eating and sleeping. And so from the tree that sustained and fed him, he went down to wander until he saw a caterpillar pillar. He traveled on to join, but before he could push himself in, three caterpillars fell beside him with one of them uttering before expiring, “the top, they’ll see…butterflies alone.”
Stripe could not understand what he meant or what a butterfly was, but maybe he could find out, especially what he was looking for at the top of the pile. He pushed himself in only to find out that he needed to step on the heads and bodies of other caterpillars so he can inch his way to the top. Likewise “he got pushed, kicked, and stepped on from every direction.”
Weary, he met another caterpillar named Yellow midway. Stripe wondered if it was worth the effort to step on Yellow, their eyes met and together they decided to just curl up, not move anymore. After a long time they found themselves at the bottom of the pillar. Looking at the pillar where they came from, they could see from a distance, hundreds of other pillars.
The two caterpillars decided to build their home. They ate, slept, grew fat, and loved each other until Stripe wondered again, that there was more to life than just loving and living together and wanted to join the caterpillar again to find out what was at the top. Yellow did not agree.
The two separated ways, with Stripe going back to the pillar. Yellow, distraught, lovesick, and lonely, decided to become a butterfly after she was inspired by an old grey-haired caterpillar who said that butterflies are what we are meant to become. And then Yellow asked him, “How does one become a butterfly? Does it mean one has to die?” She was amazed at the thought that there was a butterfly inside her and all the caterpillars and yet was scared of the thought of change. The grey caterpillar replied, “Yes and no. What looks like you will die, is really you will still live. Life is changed, not taken away.”
And then Grey told her to watch him as he made his cocoon and said, “A cocoon is no escape, it is an in-between house where the change takes place. It will look like nothing is happening, but the butterfly is already becoming.”
So Yellow decided to become a butterfly. The story goes to Stripe who became ruthless to reach the top. He stepped on those on his way so he could climb up. Nearing the top, he heard whispers of those on top of him, saying, “There was nothing at the top.” And yet they pushed others in that small space, so they could take over and to lighten the load. The ones at the top were afraid to admit there was nothing up there. Then a beautiful flying image circled in front of Stripe. It was a yellow butterfly. Though they could not understand each other anymore, the yellow creature was able to persuade Stripe with her loving gaze to go down the pile. It guided him to where the empty cocoons were and demonstrated how he could make his own cocoon and become a butterfly. The story ended with two butterflies, Stripe and Yellow and hundreds more caterpillars with butterflies within them waiting for the change and becoming butterflies themselves.
Why the long story? The story tells us that to reach the top, to fly, to soar, to find the answers to success, or to be happy does not necessarily mean stepping on others and struggling.
Of course, the story of Stripe and Yellow will have different meanings to different people reading it, depending on their perspectives and attitudes.
To my mind, while we search for the meaning of life, the dash of life or the more to life, or the end to this pandemic, we must be patient, compassionate, more generous, understanding, and reasonable. We must not be judgmental. In our case the change is the “the normal.”
The new normal has certainly changed the way we live: staying at home, social distancing, wearing our masks and shields, washing our hands, lockdowns and quarantines, and we must abide. The adjustment brings with it many positive values: compassion for our frontliners (medical, military, service oriented), care for the seniors, the sick, the young and the vulnerable, and those with mental health concerns, the people deprived of liberty and our needy neighbors, friends and relatives, hygiene, but most of all humility.
We are all the same in the eyes of God. Covid-19 chooses everyone, it is random. Walang mayaman o mahirap, matalino o di matalino, maganda o pangkaraniwan, masama o mabuti, sikat o hindi. Pareho-pareho lang lahat, dito sa Pilipinas o sa buong mundo. Walang saysay ang pera kumpara sa buhay. Kailangan magtulungan. Kailangan lang intindihin mabuti na ang kalaban ay hindi nakikita. Kahit ganito man ang sitwasyon, manalig lang sa Diyos. Siya ay hindi natutulog. Huwag matakot. Magdasal. Huwag kalimutan siya ay nagpapa-alala sa mga nakakalimot.
May I greet my grandson Eli Dominique (son of Nashi and Jackie), the apple of our eyes, who turned five years old last Aug. 5, a happy birthday. Happy birthday too, cousin Per Eriksson, niece Kaye Siapno Tapia, brother-in-law Manny Yra and my beloved sister Teresa “Bot” Yra and all the August celebrators, happy birthday. There is more to life after all.