Once a caterpillar reached the edge of a leaf and paused to consider what might lie ahead. Before the caterpillar lay nothing but thin air. Even if it strained the full arch of its body, clinging to the end of the leaf with only its hindmost legs as it leaned out as far as possible, the caterpillar found no new leaf or twig to catch hold of. The void it sensed ahead of it could have been a fraction of an inch across or gone on for miles. There on the edge, swaying slowly back and forth, it had no idea that one day it might take off and fly effortlessly as far as it wished. That a time might come when the emptiness ahead could be bridged in a single beat of its wings was a thought worlds beyond the caterpillar’s present one. And the long journey that had brought it this far? The caterpillar had as little certainty about that as about what awaited it. It couldn’t be sure it had even been a caterpillar a moment before. Why not something else? An aphid or a spittlebug maybe. For that matter, why not a leaf like the very one it now balanced on? Stranger transformations might happen. Nothing could be ruled out. Perhaps the leaf was in the same situation as the caterpillar. Perhaps the weight it felt on it at this moment was the full extent of the leaf’s own awareness. If the caterpillar shifted the least bit, would the leaf’s conception of its place in the world shift by that much as well? And wouldn’t the caterpillar then sense the leaf’s slight shift in return? This exchange of momentary inklings, this mutual counterpoise, might continue indefinitely, all of the past and the future linked to it as the caterpillar was linked to the leaf. As both of them were linked to the passing breeze, and the breeze was linked to the clouds, and the clouds to the rain, and the rain to the earth as it fell, and the earth to the tree as it reached upwards through every branch, and this one branch among so many others stretched outward into this leaf, and the leaf as it supported the caterpillar, now at the center of the universe. As they were all at the center of the universe. It wasn’t of great importance, the caterpillar realized, what it had been or what it might become. What mattered more was the faintest tremor of being now: the divinity of life itself that ran through all that ever had or ever would exist. Perhaps the caterpillar didn’t even need to come to the edge of this leaf to understand what lay beyond.
Copyright © 2020 by Geoffrey Grosshans