Lost to be Found


Pixabay Royalty Free Images

Caterpillar on a stem

Lynnsey Mahler, Writer

Deep, dark, crippling despair. It wells up to make an impenetrable wall. Inside the vague cloudiness, a small child wanders down a vanishing path. He wanders with his arms outstretched, blinded by the engulfing void. He stumbles farther, and farther away until finally the small innocent is completely swallowed, eaten alive by the poisonous fog.

This is a feeling many people know. A sharp cover over their hearts, squeezing it into submission. Taking the air from a person’s lungs and reversing any feeling of happiness previously felt. However, this type of despair is necessary for happiness to transpire. The simple fact is a person can only be found once they are lost, which is perfectly highlighted in the case of Henry David Thoreau, millions of people across the globe, and even the seasonal butterflies that pass every year.  

Henry David Thoreau was a political revolutionary who refused to pay taxes and support the Mexican-American war. Hearing this sentence, a person might assume he was some great authoritative figure when in reality Thoreau was a little bit insane. He believed in a school of thought called Transcendentalism, which meant he believed a person could transcend to a different plane of existence.  

Although he was born David Henry, soon after he finished college, he started going by the Antheses. He worked as a schoolmaster for several years, but the institutionalized system of forcing the joy and spirit out of the children through education ate at him until he could not stand it any longer. Afterward, he opened a grammar school with his brother. They helped the children to explore new, progressive ideas and the school was very successful… until it wasn’t. John, Thoreau’s brother, died in Henry’s arms from tetanus after he nicked himself with a razor. This, and the loss of his school, took a big toll on Thoreau and he retreated into his mind. 

 It was during this time that he met and became lifelong friends with Ralph Waldo Emerson. Emerson helped Henry David to explore his mind and encouraged Thoreau in several practices that helped him grow. It was this rollercoaster of a life, the momentum of not being accepted or understood, that set the pavement for the movement that wrote Thoreau’s name down in history books. He was not a found person. His whole life was not a clean, clear state. He had problems, blemishes where people expect porcelain, but it was his imperfections that made him the role model he has become for his activism against slavery and unnecessary wars.  

Pedestrians Walking on Stairs (Pixabay Royalty Free Images)

The Human race in its composition has flaws, inadequacies, fissures, and fault lines. It is written in their law systems, their psychology textbooks, their grammar system, and even their very DNA. When reaching this conclusion, one can clearly see that a perfect tomorrow on any level is not only impossible and inconceivable, but impractical. A perfect tomorrow would take out conflict, because without someone’s mistake, conflict would never be reached, so no one would ever get the chance to grow, evolve, and change. The race of humanity would be stuck, frozen forever in time with no progressions to push time forward. Perhaps it is our imperfections causing us to grow and change that pushes time itself forward. Glowsticks have to break before they can shine. Stars are the result of horrible, tremendous explosions. Muscles have to be torn and shredded before they can grow back stronger. It is the simple balance of nature and all things in life. So, humanity is no different.  

 It is only that place of deep dark despair that swallows a person up from the inside out, devours their stomachs, and takes everything away save for a thin shadow of their former selves that can bring true growth and change. A person can even feel it sometimes. When the sharp coil of light spins through the mistiness of despair. It works painfully slow. Sometimes the process of healing, of restoring, of growth is even more painful than the injury. It grows brighter as every day goes by. It takes fuel, sometimes more than a person can give. However, the end result when a person gives their everything towards growth and a better income is always a glorious transformation of the weak original. This truth is evident everywhere, even in nature.  

Imagine a long, fuzzy caterpillar on a leaf. It spends its life eating and growing in a constant cycle. It lives a simple life. That is, until one day it feels a stirring in the pit of its stomach. The caterpillar is called by some unknown, unseen force to use all its hard-earned reserves to build a contraction it never would have imagined. After this, does it know what will happen? Maybe the painful process comes as a horrific surprise. One day, the wooly bear finishes its chrysalis and gets a drowsy sleepy feeling. It crawls into its project and falls asleep. The fuzzy bug is cozy, comfortable and sweet, until it melts. Until all of the transformer’s skin dissolves and the only components of its former body are its absolute vital organs floating around in slush. Does its mind get restless and scared as it waits with wonder what could possibly happen next? What could possibly get worse? What if for the rest of its poor existence, the caterpillar is paralyzed and stuck until the food reserves run out and it starves to death? One could almost feel the confusion and terror as the skin starts to reform, along with two strange appendages springing from

Butterfly on a Marigold (Pixabay Royalty Free Images)

the back of this new creation. Pure joy explodes through the butterfly as it unfolds its wings and for the first time glides across a brilliant blue sky. Its perils completely recreate the bug to take it from something ordinary to an extraordinary creation. 

 This is true for a person as well. It takes misery and woe to create personality and love. Everything in a person has to be torn apart and made into mush before they can become a beautiful, blooming person. Like Henry David Thoreau, and a butterfly, everything including nature must be lost before it is found.  

Henry David Thoreau, every seasonal butterfly traveling across the country, and millions of people across the world know the true happiness that only comes after being lost in crippling anxiety, depression, and despair. They know the feeling of wandering through the dark, hands aloft, as their true selves fight inner turmoil hoping to come out victorious. This simple fact of life becomes a reminder to simply stay hopeful through the dark and to keep an eye out for the light at the end of the tunnel.