All tempest has,
Like a navel,
A hole in it’s middle,
A gull can fly,
– Fourteen-Century Japanese, Anonymous
From across the centuries, this nameless voice tells us that at the heart of all struggle there is a peaceful enduring center, if we can only reach it. All the wisdom traditions affirm this.
Still, a deeper paradox of life is carried here. For the gull flies through the peaceful center; it does not live there. The work, it seems, for us is to draw sustenance from the central, eternal space without denying the existence of the storm.
Repeatedly, we are thrown into the storm and into the center. When in the storm, we are exacerbated by our humanness. When in the center, we are relieved by our spiritual place in the Oneness of things. So to find the center and spread our battered wings is to feel the God within.
Our constant struggle is in living both sides of this paradox. For we cannot get to the center without going through the storm that surrounds it. Yet the storm of human experience can only be endured by knowing that the gull knows. The storm can only be survived from the center and back – there you’ll find the trials and gifts of love.
— Mark Nepo from The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have
We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.
― Maya Angelou
Death by Chrysalis
Not everything that dies becomes a moldering rot
like the sticky black ooze of the weeds of ancient seas.
Take that wooly mammoth, for instance, found in a block
of ice on the edge of the middle of some frozen nowhere,
flowers half-chewed in its mouth. What luck to be unlucky
in such a way — in a cold flash just after a little dinner-salad —
so that, all these centuries later, heads wag in disbelief
and grunt smirks at the shaggy once was of him.
And what of the death by chrysalis of the caterpillar —
a voracious, needy, earthy thing that dies from cramp
and forced revision only to be resurrected with two thin
surprises connected lightly to the same center of it all?
— Dan Simmons
Happiness is like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.
― Nathaniel Hawthorne