Silkworms Again

Nearly a dozen silkworms have not woven cocoons for their metamorphosis. Instead they continue grazing on leaves, getting fatter and slower. Then each half-heartedly spins a few sparse threads before shrivelling and dying.

This terminal omission surprises me.

More than 80% of the caterpillars did spin cocoons. Isn’t this a natural instinct, hard-wired into these creatures? Why have such a significant number failed to succesfully produce a cocoon? Surely such a crucial step in the life cycle of the silkworm is automatic.

Do these silkworms lack a genetic message? Do they just leave their run too late? Are they distracted by the profusion of leafy food available? I don’t know.

But this occurence makes me think about our development as humans. There’s a number of well researched and validated ‘stages’ of human development. I often work with Spiral Dynamics memes of consciousness, or Kegans stages of adult development. Each maps a progression, a healthy trajectory of consciousness evolution. We seem to know plenty about this phenomena … but yet so many of us get stuck along the way.

Perhaps for us there are simply many more complexities and hurdles to navigate in our life-cycle? Versus munching mulberry leaves and timing when to build a safe cocoon for the transition to moth. Still, what strikes me as a fundamental urge for the silkworms, seems no less fundamental for us.


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