The Alchemy of Isolation

Catherine Anne Howell
1 min readDec 12, 2020
Photo by Gabriela Tamara Cycman on Unsplash

When a caterpillar encases herself in chrysalis, she is utterly, deeply alone. She seals every crack so no light gets in. She isolates in darkness.

Then, in an act of ultimate surrender, she unmakes herself.

She melts every fiber of what she once was and disintegrates into amorphous flux. She dissolves.

I can’t imagine this is a painless process. It is a death of its own.

And yet, if she resists death, she will never resurrect. She will never metamorphose into a being of transcendence.

This is the way of existence. Growth is possible only through sacrifice. Transformation requires disintegration. We break down into a goopy, sloshing mess of life stuff and reform from the quintessence of who we are.

And we do it in isolation.

Fear of solitude is natural, but it is where the growth is. It is where our personal periodic table combines, compounds, and combusts into organic selfhood. This is not painless, but it is where we form.

From the darkness of isolation, we fly.



Catherine Anne Howell

Writer, podcaster, and creator exploring psyche, meaning, and self.