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Caterpillar Crossing

It was an unexpected sight. At first, I thought they were seed pods that had fallen from the nearby palo verde trees, but then Emma exclaimed, “They are moving!” And they were. Thousands of caterpillars were crossing a busy street in Scottsdale in the middle of rush-hour traffic.

This was something we needed to see up close, even if it did mean being a few minutes late to school. We parked the car nearby and walked toward the busy crosswalk the caterpillars were inching across. To be honest, it wasn’t a great scene. Bustling morning traffic meant a whole lot of smushed caterpillars on the asphalt. On a nearby wall, though, we saw many had safely crossed the street. Their colorful bodies were slowly making their way up the stucco wall. A man walking by smiled and said, “I hope it means a whole sky full of beautiful butterflies soon!”

I rather liked the thought of these caterpillars taking flight and filling the sky with beautiful colors. But it turns out, these vibrantly colored caterpillars are most definitely not going to turn into beautiful butterflies. My Google research informed me they are going to be ugly, brown moths – the kind that dart around your outdoor lights at dusk.

Like the caterpillars, we have to summon our strength when going through change. We do hard things and ultimately come through the other side changed. Sometimes profoundly so. The process leaves a mark. We may not arrive looking so great, but we wear our scars like wings – proof that we’ve made it. 

Someday soon, I will see those brown moths outside my window, circling the lights above the patio. And when I do, I’m going to be a little more welcoming – silently congratulating them for making it in one piece, recognizing what they’ve been through to make it this far and hoping they are enjoying the warmth of the light.

Author: Alyssa Forcehimes, PhD

An expert in behavior change, substance use disorders and empathic communication, Dr. Alyssa Forcehimes serves as President of The Change Companies® and Train for Change Inc.® She lives in Arizona with her husband and two daughters.