The Virtue of Camouflage
Last week when we went to Bali, we visited a butterfly park one afternoon. Butterflies are extremely attractive because of their beauty. They have the quality of being seen and marveled at, but there are a whole lot of other insects who use the opposite quality, camouflage, as they make their way in the world. The way they thrive is by being unseen, so that they appear as part of the background rather than being part of the foreground like butterflies. They are so amazing that they can look like a plant or a tree or a leave or even change colors to keep themselves in the background.
It seems to me that the world has become a little bit out of balance with obsessing about beauty like butterflies and forgetting about the virtue of being unseen like so many insects. The pressure on children, for instance, in sport is to be the goal scorer or to win the first place ribbons. When you are a butterfly, you attract a lot of positive attention so why should you try to be a camouflage insect, a stick bug. A stick bug models the plant it is living on, that is, it takes on the positive qualities that the plant has so much that it looks like the plant. It incorporates the positive qualities of the world around them and then it is able to thrive.
So when you become like a stick bug, you take on the positive qualities of your environment until they become fully integrated in your self. If you obsess only about being a butterfly, you miss the great qualities of the environment, and if you only become the environment, then you miss your own beauty and uniqueness like that of a butterfly. So we live in a world that requires us to be seen and unseen simultaneously. Both are valuable and both can receive our attention.
You can know where your imbalance is when you are either fearful of being seen or fearful of being unseen. Which one are you?