Resilience

Danaus plexippus

The monarch’s chrysalis stage lasts about ten to fourteen days. That means this one formed between September fourteenth and October eighth. Hurricane Ian made landfall on the afternoon of Wednesday, September twenty-eighth.

Imagine this caterpillar completing its final molt, spinning a silk pad, attaching itself with its hind legs, shedding its skin, and emerging as a viridescent chrysalis.

While this tiny arthropod does its thing under a water spigot on the side of the house, a one hundred forty-plus mile per hour wind gust snaps a six-story tall royal palm a few yards away, roofs along the street peel off in seconds, and a ten-foot storm surge drowns residents of Sanibel Island, Fort Myers Beach, and other coastal communities.

Reflecting on this remarkable demonstration of evolutionary resilience brings to mind a Norman Cousins quote, “The capacity for hope is the most significant fact of life. It provides human beings with a sense of destination and the energy to get started.” As 2023 nears, let’s follow the monarch’s example and get started.

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