The Mentor and the Pupa: Metamorphosis Through Massage (School)
A brief article by David Bloomer, mentor and teacher at NHI Petaluma
A few years ago I had the opportunity to visit Jamaica. During my brief stop over I walked through a butterfly house. There were several varieties of butterflies, some indigenous to Jamaica, others from similar climates around the world.
Our guide talked to us about the lifecycle of the butterfly, something that often has fascinated me. From a tiny egg, which hatches into a caterpillar, which turns into a chrysalis, or pupa; the final stage before it becomes an adult butterfly.
A caterpillar builds its chrysalis on the plant that will be its food source when it emerges. Just as it lays its eggs on a leaf of the plant from with the newly hatches caterpillar must feed. While it is crawling about there is a purpose for everything it does. Throughout its brief time on the ground it is preparing itself for the process of metamorphosis which it is about to begin.
It is what occurs during the chrysalis phase that I find most fascinating, not that the entire process is anything less than wondrous. While within its chrysalis structure the entire being melts into a sort of soup. It no longer has a body. There are no eyes, not legs, no furry outside, just a soupy, melted down mixture. It is literally rewriting its own being.
From this soup comes the beautiful butterfly. It has the ability to fly instead of crawl. It feeds and drinks in an entirely different manner. In short, its entire way of existence changes as it moves from crawler to flier.
What does this have to do with massage therapy, you ask?
Quite a bit, actually, but that is for another time. Today I am thinking about what it has in common with massage therapy school.
When a new pupil walks through the door, entering the classroom for the first time, they are very much the caterpillar. What they will become they may only be starting to imagine. While it is sometimes too easy to pass judgment on people based on appearance or on apparent ability or lack thereof, in truth, like the caterpillar, with the right set of circumstances they can become whatever they can imagine themselves to be.
Thank goodness no one is limited based on someone else’s opinion of their abilities, their strengths and weaknesses that might seem apparent at first glance.
It is difficult to fully relate the feeling of walking through this process, as every teacher at NHI has done, or of being witness to the process. It is nothing short of amazing.
As the butterfly must struggle to break the bonds of the chrysalis when it is time to emerge, so the student goes through challenges, whether relating to curriculum or to life outside the classroom.
Yes it is amazing to watch the caterpillar transform itself into a butterfly. It is also quite a thrill to what a human being transform from a single parent, struggling to make ends meet with a life in turmoil to a thriving therapist, making a powerful difference for others with their work.
That is metamorphosis: a striking alteration in appearance, character or circumstances: (Mirriam-Webster). Sometimes all three happen simultaneously.