Claudia the caterpillar was feeling rather sad. Earlier that day, she had been excited and happy and bursting to tell her friend Elby, who was a ladybird, her wonderful news. For the past few weeks, a feeling had been growing inside of Claudia. At first, it was barely perceptible, but it had been there, at the end of each day, whenever the quietness fell over the woodland. She did not know what it was, or where it came from, but she felt it nonetheless. It seemed to Claudia that the moment she became conscious of this feeling, it began to grow. Or was it just because she thought about it more and more that slowly, and with the passing of each day, it grew a little larger? For thoughts cannot grow on their own. It is our own minds that water the seed that has been sown, and allow them to take root and grow their shoots. Soon, the thought had begun to come to her more and more often, until almost her every waking moment was filled with it. It felt like a fire had burst into life inside of her soul, a fire that raged and wanted to be set free. She realised that the feelings that she had were coming from a place deep within her, they were coming from her heart, as if her heart was willing her to be something more than she was. Claudia could not hold these feelings to herself any longer and had decided it was time to tell her best friend all about it. But everything had gone wrong the moment that she opened her mouth, and had begun to tell Elby, that she was ready for a change in her life.
"You know Elby, I feel that there is more to my life than just munching on leaves all day", she had begun. "I feel that it might be time to try something different. Something new."
"Whatever do you mean Claudia? What is wrong with what we do now?" Elby looked appalled at the thought.
"I don't mean there's anything wrong with it Elby. It's just... it's just that perhaps there's something more to life. I don't know. I feel like I would like a change."
"But I like you the way you are! I don't want you to change Claudia. And I like things the way they are too. We don't need to change. We have everything that we need right here, just as we are."
"Oh... I see." Claudia had been hoping that her friend would share in her excitement and might get involved in helping her make plans. "But I really feel it in my heart that I could do so much more, that I could be so much more."
"That's dangerous talk Claudia. You've got to be careful about that kind of thing. Change brings chaos and upset. It's much better to stay safe and secure just as you are. And besides, if you change, then we might now have so many things in common any longer."
"But you would still be my friend if I changed wouldn't you Elby?" Claudia was now concerned that this feeling inside of her might cost her the best friend that she had in the entire world.
"I guess I would", replied Elby, "But I suppose that really would all depend on how much you changed."
Claudia let the conversation drop there and had quickly changed the subject. For the rest of the day, she had felt sad and now she no longer knew what she should do. That night, Claudia thought more about the conversation with Elby. Maybe she was just being silly and Elby was right about everything. Things were certainly good as they were and it was not as if Claudia was unhappy with her life. Yes, it was probably better to forget the whole thing, she thought. And that is exactly what she did for the next five days.
During those five days, Claudia went about her normal daily activities, she chatted with Elby and her other friends, and not once did she mention the feeling that was inside of her. Elby didn't ask her about it either, because Elby did not want to risk reminding of Claudia of it. However, as with all yearnings of the heart, it is impossible to silence them, since after you have heard their call, the memory of them will live with you, until either you venture forth and follow them, or you accept them and continue to live a life of regret and wonder about what may have been. Claudia still felt the urgings of her heart. In fact, she felt them stronger than ever and now she was feeling conflicted. If I change, I will lose my friends, she thought. This made her anxious and worried because she did not wish to upset her friends and she certainly did not wish to lose them. "I don't want to change! I don't want to lose my friends!" she yelled out to the woodland. Then an idea struck her. Perhaps if she went away and hid herself for a few days, these feelings would pass. Yes, to be alone for a while and to work out these feelings was the best thing she could do. And when she came back, she would still be the same old Claudia and she would still have all of her friends.
So Claudia crawled away to the edge of the woodland so that she could be alone and work through her thoughts. Once she was there, she realised that she needed a place to hide, so that she would not be disturbed or seen by anyone. Unfortunately, all of the suitable places that she found were already occupied. She was just about to give up on finding a place where she could find the solace that she sought, when she a sudden thought came to her. I can spin my own home! Soon, Claudia was smug and warm inside of her own cocoon, where she settled down to think about her life and to try to forget all about the notion of change.
Once she was inside of her cocoon, Claudia lost all track of the time. She was unable to see the sun nor the moon, so she had no idea how many days she had been hiding herself. She slept for much of the time and when she was awake, she thought about her friends and especially about Elby, and wondered how they were, and whether they would be missing her? Many times she felt the urge to leave her cocoon, but each time the thought crossed her mind, she quickly dismissed it because she felt that she was not yet ready. The urge to be different was strong inside of her still, and she told herself over and over that she did not wish to change. My friends are important to me, I do not wish to lose them, she repeated to herself.
And then, on the first morning of her fourth week, Claudia woke with a sudden start. The feelings that she had been having were no longer inside of her. Her heart seemed to be empty and quiet. She had silenced them! "Yes!" she shouted, "I've done it. I stopped myself from changing. I extinguished the urge. I can see my old friends again!" Excited and anxious to see her friends, she broke down a wall of her cocoon and squeezed herself out. Hurriedly, she ran to see her most dearest friend, Elby, who she found sitting on her favourite toadstool.
"Hello Elby!" she called out as she approached. "It's me, Claudia!"
Elby looked around but did not seem to see Claudia. "Claudia? Where are you? I don't see you."
"It's me Elby. I'm right here." Claudia was now standing right in front of Elby.
"You're not Claudia. What kind of trick is this?"
"Of course I'm Claudia! Oh Elby, I've only been gone a few days, surely you haven't forgotten your best friend already?"
"I haven't seen Claudia for about three weeks. After a few days, I feared that perhaps a bird had taken her. But anyway, you cannot be Claudia because Claudia was my caterpillar friend."
"Oh Elby, it is me. And of course I'm a caterpillar. Have you been at the mushrooms again Elby? You know how they affect you so."
"Well, I can safely say that you are no caterpillar. You're a butterfly if ever I saw one."
"What? What did you say?" Claudia was in shock.
"I said that you're a butterfly."
It was only then that Claudia felt the flex of the delicate wings on her back, the daintiness of her legs and the spring of her step. "Oh my gosh! I did change."
"I don't know you any longer Claudia. I told you that I didn't want you to change, and look at what you went and did!"
Claudia could sense that Elby was annoyed with her, when she had hoped that she would be pleased to see how her friend had changed and grown. "Are we no longer friends Elby?"
"I cannot be friends with someone I no longer know." And with that, Elby unfolded her little wings and flew off, leaving a sad and stunned Claudia all alone. Claudia sat and wept.
Some time later, she was still weeping when she heard a voice. "Ahem. Ahem! So, sorry to trouble you, but you seem rather upset about something. Are you alright?"
Claudia looked up to see a magificent and handsome looking butterfly standing before her, flexing it's wings slowly up and down.
"I'm sad because today I lost my best friend."
"How could you lose your friend? What did you do?"
"I changed from a caterpillar into a butterfly and my friend didn't want me to become different. She became angry with me for changing." Claudia began to sob again.
"Now let me tell you something. What kind of person would not want to see their friend become better and to improve themselves? What kind of person would want to stifle a friend's growth? I would hardly call that kind of person a friend. In fact, I would be so bold as to say that they were no friend at all, and furthermore, I'd say that very probably, they were jealous of you."
"Why would Elby be jealous of me?"
"Because you became something that she could not. You grew. You discovered your true self. You followed the calling of your heart. And because you became different. A true friend would support you through all of that. A true friend would be at your side for every step of the way. By the way, my name is Monty."
Claudia sniffed. "I'm Claudia."
"Well Claudia, why don't you come with me and we'll find you some new friends. I know a lot of other butterflies and insects that are going to be very pleased to meet you. Will you come with me Claudia?"
"Yes, I will."
With that, both butterflies took to the air and flew once, twice, three times around the head of a bright yellow flower and fluttered off on the breeze. And from that day on, there was never a more happy, contented and beautiful butterfly in all this world than Claudia.