Are we larvae?

By | Thursday, November 16, 2023 Leave a Comment

I wonder if caterpillars know that they will become butterflies. When a caterpillar on a leaf sees a butterfly flying around, does it think, “that will be me some day”? Or perhaps, “I hope I become a butterfly like that one.” Or does it just see butterflies as another of the many things in its universe? Can a caterpillar, in its limited capacity, even conceive of a relationship between itself and a butterfly?

I wonder if butterflies know that they were caterpillars. When they are drinking nectar from a flower and notice a caterpillar on a leaf, do they reminisce about those bygone days? Do they think caterpillars are cute? Do they look forward to laying eggs, or fertilizing eggs, that will become caterpillars?

I wonder if we are the larval form of something else… some next existence of which we cannot conceive. Butterflies aren’t just caterpillars with wings glued on. So, rather than floating around on clouds in heaven in humanesque bodies with wings, perhaps we become something inconceivable. In our extraordinary capacities, we can imagine quite a lot. But I wonder if there might be an afterlife after all – merely one that even we cannot conceive.

What do caterpillars think of their lives? I doubt that caterpillars have existential crises in which they wonder about the meaning of their existence. But if they did, would knowing that they are larval butterflies make them feel any better? Would that give them a sense of purpose? Meanwhile, who is to say that being a butterfly is any better than being a caterpillar. From our human aesthetic, butterflies are pretty, and airborne, and visit flowers, while caterpillars are usually more drab, climb on plants, and eat leaves. But perhaps being a caterpillar is an idyllic carefree childhood, while being a butterfly is an anxiety-filled adulthood, desperately trying to reproduce.

This human life seems rather pointless, but maybe we are larval stages of something else. Would knowing that make this life feel more purposeful? Do metamorphosized “people” look at humans with any recognition of a connection? And if there is some next existence, who’s to say if this life is idyllic childhood, or if that next life is beatific flitting from flower to flower.
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