Cocoons and Covid-19
What caterpillars go through has applications for our moment.
Remember in general science class as a child what you learned about cocoons? How a worm or caterpillar spins a silky web about itself to later emerge as a beautiful butterfly. It was our introduction to the phenomenon of metamorphosis. In that transformation are correlations to our present moment—in particular, the before and after stages.
As we sit, and sit, and sit, in our homes that now resemble cocoons, we are in a state of metamorphosis. The correlations are: the confinement, the waiting, the darkness, the change. I assure you, this was not taken from a medieval metaphysical poem.
Dana Attari, a Californian, describes the monotony/boredom of lockdown as “the discomfort of facing too much of myself.” By the end of March, Italians named boredom as one of the most difficult aspects of their prolonged isolation. Restless in self-isolation, you might take a trajectory toward bad habits like eating snacks you’re not hungry for, or checking your phone 800 times. I could have never imagined missing the crowded bus stops under oppressive heat, but somehow, in a twisted way, I do. It gave my eyes, ears and sometimes my nose occupation. It my mind paths to meander down.
As the appointed time of the lockdowns approach, they are extended. Sort of a carrot on a stick ploy.
So, what is happening with our resident caterpillar during his lockdown period in his cocoon?
Well, first gut-wrenching processes occur by which the caterpillar digests most of itself into an oozy soup—sounds familiar? Are you living a self-destructive quarantine cocoon life? Maybe you are not bingeing on junk food, Netflix or video games to numb the boredom, but you are probably doing something. Data suggests that most of us are.
Society, as we once knew it, has decomposed. Meeting friends after work for coffee, impromptu conversations on transport, going out to a football match holidays, the extended family meal on Fridays — all the activities that added spice to our days have now sunk to the bottom a murky soup of society.
Good news is that the main cell division required for wings, antennae, legs, eyes, and genitals stay intact—whew! There’s hope for us.
It’s from this point that a group of specialized cells called imaginal discs start developing the insect’s new body and wings. This is the point for us, I think, when we realize we have to pull ourselves back together. Time to think creatively, take ideas to the next stage, and develop a new routine suited to the situation.
When the fully developed butterfly emerges, it often leaves behind in the spent cocoon, a gooey waste fluid the butterfly won’t need any more. The dark days of depression and anxiety over the situation you leave behind (Allah willing) like the waste fluid in the cocoon. You’ve charted a new path and are motivated to pursue it.
Indeed, life under lockdown as in a cocoon can be bleak, but being positive, benefitting from the time to become a better person, on the other hand, it somewhat spectacular.
Al Jazar: A Minimalist Approach
On Al Jazar Street in al Riyadh Khartoum, under a large white sign spelling out the word “Al Jazar” in big bold black-lined red letters, is a great little take out for a delicious kufta sandwich. As the namesake explicates, the enterprise is a byproduct…