Those of you who follow me on Facebook know I’ve been fostering Monarch caterpillars this summer. Yes, I came to it late in the season and that’s not a metaphor.
I collected each caterpillar from my milkweed and placed it in a large mason jar, using cheesecloth across the top to allow the air to flow. First it chowed down on a few of the milkweed leaves I’d added, deposited a few tiny black specks that resembled elongated peppercorns, then curled up and spun itself into what in grade school we called a cocoon, a chrysalis, with a luminescent greenish cast to it.
Here’s a short video my son Dave took of just such a transformation. I’m unable to make it smaller; I hope you can watch it.
Isn’t that spectacular? Watching the caterpillar build its chrysalis was as spectacular as watching that butterfly emerge two weeks later.
Here’s another video of one of Dave’s Monarch’s emerging.
I’d taken my second chrysalis to Ohio with me on Monday and the butterfly emerged sometime Tuesday evening. The next morning, eleven-year-old Kendall, who has done this many times, and I let it go.
We watched it head south.
How did it know to do that?
Instinct, you’re saying. I know. But what is that?
From Google: an innate, typically fixed pattern of behavior
in animals in response to certain stimuli.
From Wikipedia: the inherent inclination of a living organism towards a particular complex behavior.
From the Cambridge Dictionary: the way people or animals naturally react or behave,
without having to think or learn about it.
It’s not rational, that’s obvious.
I had this moment fixed in my mind when, twenty-some hours later I found myself in front on my computer screen watching C-Span (my son has no TV) and drawing parallels.
Were those 11 white men on the We want Judge Kavenaugh side following an instinct? A survival instinct so powerful that all they could contemplate was I must make this happen? They didn’t seem rational. That’s all I knew.
Just how rational are we humans? How open are we to allowing new information to influence a decision we’ve already made? Or, once made, are the positions we’ve taken as fixed as the migration pattern of the spectacular Monarch butterfly?
How about you? What’s your take on how rational we humans actually are?