“The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis.’ One brush stroke stands for danger;
the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger – but recognize the opportunity”
~ John F. Kennedy, Speech in Indianapolis, April 12, 1959
JFK’s younger brother, Robert Kennedy echoed that sentiment in a speech in Cape Town in June 1966, he said: “There is a Chinese curse which says ‘May you live in interesting times.’ Like it or not we live in interesting times. These are times of danger and uncertainty; but they are also more open to the creative energy of men than any other time in history.”
It appears that the world around us is in a state of chaos and crisis. Old geo-political systems are crumbling. Old institutional systems are failing. Old paradigms are falling apart. Old ways of thinking no longer serve to solve the chaotic problems we appear to be undergoing and the crisis seems beyond our ability to control or navigate.
But consider this metaphor: As the caterpillar is approaching the end of its life, it feels like it is in crisis. And so it weaves its own burial shroud called a chrysalis and dissolves into complete chaos. All of its old cellular structure dies. Then, a miracle happens. Imaginal cells begin to form in that chaos and soon the butterfly emerges. The creature that was once limited to crawling on the ground can now soar high above the ground and feed on the golden nectar of flowers. It has exactly the same DNA, but it has been transformed. A metamorphosis has occurred.
The science of it all is amazing: The caterpillar lives a life of ravenous consumption then finds a place to build its cocoon. Inside this chrysalis, the caterpillar, unable to move, dissolves into organic goop. Cells, which had been dormant in the caterpillar, and which biologists had the poetic genius to name “Imaginal cells,” begin a process of creating a new form and structure.
At first, these seeds of future potential, the imaginal cells which contain the blueprint of the butterfly, operate independently as single-cell organisms. They are regarded as threats and are attacked by the caterpillar’s immune system. But they persist, multiply, and connect with each other. Eventually, these imaginal cells form clusters and begin resonating at the same frequency and start passing information back and forth until they hit a tipping point. Suddenly, they start acting not as discrete individual cells but as a multi-cell organism… and a butterfly is born.
The truly miraculous thing is that even though there is no structural similarity at all between a caterpillar and a butterfly, the DNA is exactly the same.
Imagine this: each of us has within us our own imaginal cells; AND each of us is an imaginal cell within human society.
Our apparent crisis is actually giving birth to a new world, a new culture and a new stage of human development.
Are you ready to emerge from your cocoon? Are you willing to have your personal imaginal cells ignited? Are you willing to become an imaginal cell within the body of humanity and serve to create the new human?
This is an invitation to soar into your greatness and your power to transform the way the world envisions and creates the future.