Volume 26, Number 11—November 2020
Isolation Cocoon, May 2020—After Zhuangzi’s Butterfly Dream
Spinning, what you will, in heeding that swarm of guidance, creating
your own shell, then transforming, as you will, within that isolation,
still seems like an almost unconvincing, almost unnecessary nuisance.
You had chosen this situation, if it is fair to say there was a choice,
when there was no viable alternative. Your cocoon can feel so safe,
an illusion perhaps, but reality provides nothing less vulnerable.
The walls are thin enough to allow you to breathe, and to vaguely hear
or feel vibrations, even though their meaning cannot be known.
Light penetrates, and darkness, too; the changes remain obscure.
Ruminating on that former lifestyle, you can digest time thoroughly,
like those last memorable green leaves of Springtime, then so succulent,
and satisfying, but to what end you know not; not all cocoons survive.
Time, space, being, identity, the interpreted past, the fancied future
can all be consumed within your insatiable capsule. Chrysalis or cocoon,
distinctions no longer matter; each benefits from a covering and distancing.
Complacency or contentment allows a concentration on one’s only
certainty, the presentness right now, in this cell-like confinement,
because emergence would require several just preposterous miracles.
Dr. Louie is a clinical professor in Pediatrics (Hematology–Oncology) at the University of Washington, Seattle. His professional interests include clinical trials, dementia care, and writing the blog AlzheimerGadfly.net.
Original Publication Date: October 13, 2020