Skip to main content

Sarah Lipton

Sarah Lipton

Powerful Permission: Shatter Your Cocoon Now and Soar Free


Photo by Krzysztof Niewolny on Unsplash

If we can embrace the tenacity to free ourselves from the stench of the cocoon, we will liberate ourselves, even in the face of a global pandemic.

Catharsis. I seek catharsis.

I am bottled up–frozen–barren–rigid. In short: a train wreck.

But, aren’t we all right now?

I gaze out at the rolling hills through my window and see that the earth in its oestre is melting, however. The young deer nibbling on the tinge of green in my yard is proof. The budding trees an affidavit. The crocus stretching her thin neck to the sky, testament.

So why am I still frozen? Why does my mud not ooze with spring release?

"Why so rigid, young mother?"

"Why so broken asunder, old friend?"

"Why so unrecognizable, little one?"

Gone are the days of freedom and easy release. Gone are the hours of ponder, the moments of gander, the free and easy-wheeling grace of wonder.

"For now," I hear you say, "for now."

I can’t help but feel that everything has changed.

Stiff with disuse, it’s hard for my mind to even bend to the familiar task at hand.

“You have got to stop fighting this, Sarah. You have to show up and find a way to surrender right now. Do what you teach us to do, you have no choice. This is your education,” scolds my auntie.

Heaving with sobs, a regular activity lately, I recognize that I’ve been trying too hard to try to figure out how to navigate this new situation. My thinking mind has been on overdrive, and it's not helping. I have to let go of trying to figure anything out.

And what is this situation? Well, you might have heard of COVID-19. It’s shaken up our entire globe in a way nothing ever has before.

No, I know I’m not dying. My immediate family is not sick. We are safe, but our quarantined isolation is a challenge for my socially-starved family. And because everything is shut down, I am suddenly on 24/7 with my children. I don’t get to write or work, as I need to give my partner space for work, since he has an actual paying job.

Four weeks ago, overnight, I went from flapping my large, global wings through two growing businesses, to being clipped and stuck guarding my little nest and small nestlings.

I resent this thoroughly.

My blood boils. And the rage comes out sideways in every direction.

Gone are the supports I had finally landed on to help me get through every day. Gone are the resources I had aligned to guide me to my dreams.

And here are two tiny children also bereft of friends and normalcy.

Our anger bounces off of each other. We ping and pong, my five-year-old and I, irritation growing, listening degraded, desire to be around one another eroded.

And I break asunder. Tears waterfalling, cascading through our home. We are all drowning.

I think I’ve been here before, though the storyline was different.

But let me re-group.

Look. Look out at the mountains. Snow-capped, wistfully longing for skirts of spring green, carpets of bird-song, their patience clearly evident.

Change will come, as it always does.

And my personal oestre will come, as long as I let it.

I must lean back. I have resource, even if I can't remember what it is in this tidal surge of frustration and anger. I do know how to breathe.

Surrender means: "give up, to deliver oneself over to." We must, therefore, render ourselves to this situation.

We are stuck at home. Paralyzed by circumstance. And so, we have no choice but to find a way to bloom anyways.

What have I always said to everyone else? "The bloom only blossoms when the bud is overcome."

The bulb only grows when the perceived obstacle of frozen dirt becomes warm nutrient.

How do I go from longing for external release and recognition to internal freedom? The irony of this question is that this is the exact crux of the Buddhist path, and is exactly what I've been preparing for all along.

So, now is the moment.

But I baulk.

It's too hard. So much easier to hunker down in anger. So much simpler to remain in resentment. So much easier to swelter in the stench of my familiar cocoon.

Ahh, but listen. Hear that scratching sound? It is the sound of my small claw reaching out to scratch at the cozy interior of the cocoon. My tiny, still-forming body knows what it needs to do. My complex, twisted mind must cease to get in the way.

I close my eyes and feel into the tiny feet of my butterfly body.

For the first time in weeks, I can feel the itchy, yet potent sensation of wings at the back of my body. My shoulders ache with the longing for release. My antennae poke at the cottony fabric of my cocoon, and I take a deep breath of stale air.

With the full ferocity of frustration, I kick. Fresh, cold, sweet air comes rushing in through the tear. I shiver. And my feet lash out again. A crackling riiiiip sounds along with the scream of wind. I have no arms, only wings, and I can't cover my ears. I use my strong teeth, slashing away the last of the gauze, and climb out to safety on the branch above.

My caterpillar mind has dissolved, and though I can't remember the branch I now stand upon, I know it.

Catching my breath, I pause. And slowly, as if captured in a time-release or stop-motion video, my wings begin to unfurl. They expand, they grow, they strengthen. The wind dries out the last of the cocoon-sweat, and I now stand tall, erect upon my new perch. I become part of the tree as I dry, but I own this moment. The longer I pause, the stronger I become. My vision crystallizes into spectacular tetrachromatic patterns, and suddenly everything around me becomes vivid and staggeringly real.

I breathe. My new lungs taste the delicious air, and I breathe slowly so as not to overwhelm my new senses.

Suddenly, a cricket looms large in my view. She has hopped onto the branch beside me, and curiously, she cocks her head at me, waggling her back legs to creeeaaakk at me.

"Hello," I say. Confidence in my soft but strong presence ripples from my now outstretched wings.

Cricket says nothing, but looks curiously at my wings, wondering what will happen.

I wonder, too.

This is the moment I have been waiting for, all of my life.

And so, I realize, in my new role of un-sought full-time motherhood, I must perpetually come back to my perch on the solid branch. I need not be soft and mushy with my children (nor do I really know how to do that), but I also need not be task-master.

Just because I was raised by a drill-sergeant, does not mean I have to be one too. Heck! I'm a butterfly! I was a caterpillar, sure. I was a pulpy mess for a while in the cocoon. But I've kicked my way out now.

I can see, from the look on Cricket's face, that she knows I'll still get into tangles. I mean, these wings are large, I'm sure they'll get caught up in a spider's web sometime, but I now know that if I sink into my sharp little feet, I'll be able to kick my way free. My teeth will help dislodge the tenacious strands, and I'll be able to waft my way towards freedom again.

And so, burbling with this new-found confidence and magnificent vision, I heave a sigh of relief. I now know what I need: patience that truly renders me able to melt into each situation.

Instead of kicking Cricket to the curb, I will endeavor to find a way to meet her curiosity with a smile. We are no threat, one to the other. We need not compete. And we must co-exist. And perhaps, if I become willing, together we can make music to tickle the frogs into dancing.

Heck, I know this is extremely messy. This global pandemic has each and every one of us knocked to our knees, meeting our own demons square in the face. So, now is the time to breathe our way to a solution.

Please join me in the endeavor to let go of thinking up any answers. Please join me on my branch. Together, we can flap to new heights on the winds of change.