The Cocoon

One of the words I really like is “calibration”. I don’t know if it’s the word, or the action, but I often think in terms of calibration.

For instance, every time I start a new project, I calibrate my effort. I do a few trials and see how much I can commit to that project. Sometimes I realize that I push too hard and I have to cut some time, sometimes I realize I can add a few extra hours. It’s a process. I calibrate myself.

Every time I finish this calibration process, I like to imagine a sphere around that project. It’s a sphere containing all the available energy to deal with that project. It’s made of time, knowledge, other people, actions, everything. But I kinda see its limits.

And then, as the project advances, I literally feel how I start to put some pressure on the walls of that sphere. The more I work, the bigger the project grows and the harder the pressure on the transparent sphere walls. Until when, at some point, when the project is really ready, when there’s no more time left, when all the tasks have been done, the sphere actually explodes. And, in a rather miraculous process of transformation, what’s left, well, it’s a beautiful work of art. It’s not the project anymore, it’s something bigger.

I call that sphere the “cocoon”. It’s the comfort zone, or the space that you can be aware of around yourself. It’s how much you think you can do, how much you are willing to stretch, how many risks are you willing to take. It’s where you feel safe.

And then, outside that space, there’s the magic.

The “cocoon” manifests in many areas. It’s not only about projects. It’s also about personal evolution, about relationships, you name it. In all of these areas there’s a certain space in which you feel comfortable and then, as time goes by, there’s a building pressure against the sphere walls. If you do your job correctly, at some point, the sphere will eventually break up, and you’ll emerge more powerful and completely different (yet, still you) from that explosion.

But there’s a problem. People love their comfort zone. They get so accustomed to it, that they tend to identify it with life itself. The easiness, the predictability, the familiarity, all these apparently safe qualities of that space make people cling to it. Badly, actually.

So, most of the time, the cocoon is never broke. When people start to feel that pressure building up against their comfort zone, they take measures. They ease the pressure. They back up. They try to preserve the status quo for as long as possible. Until something, (most of the time, something unpleasant), forces them to build the pressure again. It’s sort of like breathing, they inhale some pressure, and they exhale it (but still inside of the comfort zone), trying to preserve their old images for as long as possible. Because, you know, comfort is nice.

But you can’t stop the butterfly inside. You can’t oppose life, because life, as unpredictable, as painful, as unfair as it is sometimes, it’s life. It’s bigger than you. It traverses you like a river and always searches for a bigger sea to flow in. You’re just a vehicle and if you want to become something bigger than you are right now, you’d better rush to the cocoon walls, and broke them as fast as you can.

The bad news is that, by breaking up the cocoon, you’ll lose something. Actually, worse: something inside you will die for real. It’s a fact. You won’t be a caterpillar anymore.

The good news is that, after breaking up the cocoon, you’re flying.

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