So in my last blog, I said that caterpillars change their DNA to become butterflies.
I was wrong.
Their butterfly-ness is part of their DNA from the start. Apparently some messengers are time released – they get woken up and sent out after an alarm clock goes off, a clock that is embedded in the DNA. At least, I think that’s how it works.
Wow. That’s cool.
So, first of all, bad on me as a writer for not having done my research. Fortunately, I have my friend Jim to point it out when I haven’t done my research, because his points always make me delve deeper.
After delving deeper, however, I think that the metaphor still works. In fact, I think it almost works better (which is why research pays off for writers – makes us better writers).
Our DNA is what makes us unique, while also connecting us to each other. This isn’t about fate or destiny, but about our true nature.
I’ve always thought that the admonition, “You’re too big for your britches!” is pretty lame. So what – we’re supposed to wear the same size britches at 14 as we did when we were four?
I have no idea what part DNA plays in our psyches. Maybe something, maybe nothing at all. But I do know that there comes a point in some lives when who you thought you were supposed to be, isn’t who you find that you are. Your story might be different than the one you were told was yours.
I think this can happen on a cultural as well as an individual level. I wonder if that is what is happening now. Joseph Campbell said that we need to create new myths; stories that are metaphors for a world that is both smaller and bigger than one that is limited by geography and topography.
We’ve seen photographs of earth. That has to have an effect on us, whether conscious or unconscious. It can evoke awe and it can provoke fear, for it requires a change in our worldview. We are part of something bigger than what we can see from where we stand.
I think that science, at its best, informs us of that. Art,I think, gives us metaphors that inform us how to stand where we are and participate in that something that is bigger.
We need both.
I think that when you become too big for your britches, the time has come to shop for a new pair. Or, when the story no longer works for you, it’s time to find the story that does.
Faulkner, in his Nobel Prize speech, says that the writer should banish fear from the workshop. He’s not saying don’t ever feel fear, just banish it from the workshop. I agree.