The short version:
When a caterpillar is ready to become a butterfly, cells called ‘imaginal cells’ start showing up in their body. They multiply and multiply until they reach a tipping point and the caterpillar spins a cocoon and then literally dissolves into mush. And then the butterfly emerges and takes flight.
I think that we humans change through a similar process, though ours may not be as outwardly dramatic and this blog is not only my exploration into the imaginal process but a place for me to chronicle the intricacies of this process in my own life, specifically around running and training for the Nothing Special Tour. This is an experiment in achieving what I did not believe was possible and though that, I hope to encourage others to break from their own cocoon and become a positive force in our world.
But there is so much more:
I had just shared the story the rehabilitation of our rescued dog, Keely, on a website and as often happens when I share her story, I received a lot of feedback that looked something like this: ‘You have such a big heart!’ or ‘I could never do what you do!’
As much as I appreciate that kind of feedback, I get frustrated too. I know that my husband and I had no special skills or bigger hearts when we adopted Keely and started the long journey to rehabilitating her. We were often frustrated, confused and scared during that time but we learned and soldiered through the hard parts and were blessed enough to see the mangy, skinny thing we adopted heal and blossom into the happy girl she is today.
I realized after posting that story that what I wanted to do more than anything was show people that they could do those hard things that they thought they couldn’t do. I wanted to people to realize that they didn’t have to be some idealized vision of a person to be part of a miracle, that miracles came from the everyday work of every day people.
I had no idea how to do that.
Then one morning I was on one of my never ending walks with the dogs and for ‘some reason’, I started thinking of a post I’d done a long time ago about butterflies and imaginal cells. I am fascinated by the process through which a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. For that magical transformation to exist as a regular part of our natural world seems truly miraculous to me.
Then it hit me: my own transformations in life were a lot like the process of caterpillar to butterfly. An idea or urge would show up and maybe I’d dismiss it as something I couldn’t do. But sometimes ideas would stick around, rattling around in the back of my brain and it would grow. Sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly but I’d find myself more engaged with this idea. Then the exploration and research would start. Then maybe I’d start casually talking about it. At some point without really trying, I’d have thought and talked about this thing (whatever it was) so much that it suddenly didn’t seem overwhelming anymore.
That’s when the action would start and the transformation would begin. I have also recently rediscovered a love of running and that didn’t coincidental to me. Running exemplifies the imaginal process-the step by step progress, the struggle and finally, the transformation into something greater.
Here was an instance-real and immediate-of feeling suddenly transformed and realizing it wasn’t sudden at all. The transformation has been slowly building in me until it reached a tipping point and the imaginal cells of a runner overran the cells of what was there before.
I started calling it the ‘imaginal process’. But now that I had a name for this process, what did it entail? How could I use it? How could others? What could be accomplished with it? If people realized that they could make significant change in their lives or in the lives of someone/something else, would they?
This blog is my personal journey and exploration of the imaginal process but also my way to share what I’ve learned and will continue to learn with you. I learned from my experience with Keely that my imperfect, impatient, Dr. Pepper addicted self could make a lasting impact on another creature. I want to see what else I can accomplish. And, I want to give you anything I learn and experience so that we can be more and more imaginal cells in the cosmos of the world, creating beauty instead of harm, love instead of apathy, connection instead of toxins.
And so this site was born-the Imaginal Project: metamorphosis, one step at a time.