Sometimes nature is truly ingenious and perhaps one of my favorite examples is the little caterpillar, our prompt for today. It’s amazing to think a caterpillar like this one will one day do the impossible and transform into a lovely monarch butterfly. Milkweeds are the only plant where monarchs will lay their eggs as its the only plant a caterpillar like this one can eat. After munching ravenously for 10-14 days it forms a chrysalis, undergoes a truly radical transformation of its bodily tissues, and two weeks later a butterfly emerges. To change from something rather like a worm into something with intricate, stained glass wings capable of flight seems almost inconceivable. To me, the butterfly is living proof that anything is indeed possible. Since I was a child, I’ve always found them fascinating and they’ve always been a symbol of hope for me. The very idea that such radical change is possible for them means, in some leap of logic, that even my craziest dreams just might have a chance to flourish and take flight.
I’m not, of course, a caterpillar, nor do I think I was one in a past life. But, some days, I certainly do feel like one. Inching along ever so slowly, struggling to do the things I wish I could do, but lack the necessary skills or time, and hoping that one day something will change for the better. As I write and paint each day, I see progress only from a bird’s eye view. A view of everything I’ve done since I started. There’s definite progress there to be sure! But individual days are often hit or miss. On some days, the image I create is less than I’d hoped and completely different from the far more impressive illustration I had imagined in my mind. On others, I’m rather surprised by what comes out and it’s better than I thought it could be. But each day, I approach these posts with the same hope and enthusiasm, even on days when I only have 30 minutes to make it all happen. This is something that I’ve done my whole life. I definitely get discouraged along the way, but I never let that stop me from eagerly trying again, and again, and again.
Years ago, my father and I chatted briefly on the phone. This, in itself, was memorable as it rarely happened. We didn’t have a typically close relationship and conversations never really came easy. I mentioned, at the time, wanting to be a writer and thought he’d just move on to the next bit of conversation not bothering to feign an interest. But what came next surprised me. He said, “If it’s something you really want to do, then you can do it. You can do anything if it’s important enough to you.” Those were exactly the words I needed to hear and words I still hear in my head today when life gets challenging. Just a few weeks after that call, my father unexpectedly passed away, so these would also be the last words I would ever heard him speak. This is why I still use “DO” as my simple motto to this day. And why even though it can often seem like my dreams are inching along slowly, I know in my heart that all those truly important ones will eventually come true. After all, what seems like only a caterpillar in this moment is, one day, a butterfly.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Da Vinci Yellow, Leaf Green, Terra Cotta, and Cobalt Blue. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book.
Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!