One of my favorite videos is the transformative process of the honeybee becoming an adult. Like many insects, the honeybee starts out as an egg, becomes a larva, spins a cocoon where it pupates, and then emerges as a honeybee as we know it and see it flying from flower to flower.
As I talk with people on Zoom about the time we are living in, I’ve been asking the question: are we being asked to transform? It seems I’m not the only one asking these questions. One of my favorite youtubers, an herbalist, recently posed the question: are we being asked to evolve?
I think we are. I think we are being asked to change and adapt to new environments and new ways of being. In some ways, the stay-at-home orders associated with the Coronavirus Pandemic have forced me and others to shelter in our cocoons. At the same time, the continued murdering of black people at the hands of white people is pulling me out of my safe place. It is requiring me to rethink my mental models and beliefs about race, health care, essential workers, and other systemic problems.
Who I am is changing. Who I am is transforming. Who I am is becoming. It will not be easy. However, if I remind myself that the natural world shows me that metamorphosis happens, I recognize this is a natural process. If I try to hold on to what was, I will find myself struggling against natural forces.
The good news is that there are tools to help us transform and change. When I started consulting with Partners for Impact, I brought with me the concept of the adaptive cycle. It seems so appropriate in this historical moment. We grow as individuals, programs, and organizations until we can’t. Then, creative destruction forces us to reorganize, innovate and recreate. The analogy is appropriate particularly when we think about the traps in the cycle, especially the Chronic Disaster Trap that occurs when we fight the creative destruction. Killing black people over and over has been a chronic disaster in America. We have been trapped in a white supremacist culture for centuries. At this moment, I believe I’m being asked to transform myself and contribute to transforming our culture. I believe my DNA knows how to change. If I am willing to let go of old patterns and ways of thinking, I can reorganize and innovate into new forms and ways of being. I can create a new culture beyond the white supremacy that exists today. I can — I will — emerge from my cocoon transformed.
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