Metamorphism

The caterpillar is a prisoner to the streets that conceived it
Its only job is to eat or consume everything around it, in order to protect itself from this mad city
While consuming its environment the caterpillar begins to notice ways to survive
One thing it noticed is how much the world shuns him, but praises the butterfly
The butterfly represents the talent, the thoughtfulness, and the beauty within the caterpillar
But having a harsh outlook on life the caterpillar sees the butterfly as weak
And figures out a way to pimp it to his own benefits
Already surrounded by this mad city
The caterpillar goes to work on the cocoon which institutionalizes him
He can no longer see past his own thoughts
He’s trapped
When trapped inside these walls certain ideas start to take roots
Such as going home, and bringing back new concepts to this mad city
The result?
Wings begin to emerge, breaking the cycle of feeling stagnant
Finally free, the butterfly sheds light on situations
That the caterpillar never considered, ending the eternal struggle
Although the butterfly and caterpillar are completely different
They are one and the same”

(Kendrick Lamar. “Mortal Man.” To Pimp A Butterfly, Top Dawg Entertainment, 2015.)

This poem, performed by Kendrick Lamar in his Grammy Award winning album To Pimp A Butterfly tells the story of a metaphorical caterpillar facing adversity so blinding that the realization of the immense growth and internal metamorphism isn’t celebrated until after he becomes a butterfly.

Caleb Davis is that caterpillar – turned – butterfly. 

After enrolling at Howard University in 2010 he, like any other ambitious and intelligent student, had goals of graduating in 4-5 years with his engineering degree and having a well-paying job as his reward…

But life, as it always does, had other plans.

Personally, it took me quite some time to realize that graduating college in 4+ years had little to do with mental aptitude and a lot to deal with how you handle life’s curveballs.  For some students, a challenging curriculum is the least of their worries.

Caleb was just 6 credits short of graduation when his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.  To put that into perspective, 6 credits is 2 classes (at 3 credits each) …2 classes separated him from walking across the stage.

But, as any son will tell you, everyone and everything becomes peripheral when your mother becomes sick, and you do whatever is necessary to ensure that she is okay.

Caleb quickly learned that life is also all about opportunity costs: He failed three of his necessary classes to graduate and couldn’t afford to stay in school, while helping nurse his mother back to health. Hungrier and more motivated than ever, Caleb fought tooth and nail, worked 3-4 jobs, and even started a non-profit that would help encourage more Howard alumni to give back, all while trying to finish school.

But balancing those achievements proved to be a strain on his body and sleep deprivation and stress overtook him.  After checking into a hospital, doctors diagnosed him with acute levels of bipolar disorder and in the Fall of 2015, he fully withdrew from Howard University.

…The caterpillar’s cocoon was beginning to taking shape…

Caleb didn’t see this failure as some stagnating hard stop in life, rather he saw it as an evolving learning experience.  “I love finding out about who I am and about my family, knowing and identifying my weaknesses, and just because it’s weird to me, that doesn’t mean it’s bad” he explains.

And it was that mentality that would help him shed his cocoon and emerge as the unconstrained butterfly in the end.

After taking some time away from Howard, he continued working, saving, setting goals, and clearing his head…preparing for his biggest comeback ever, and in 2018 he graduated with his Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering.  He now works within DC Government as a Management Analyst in the Organizational Change Management Department of the District of Columbia Access System.

Finally free, the butterfly sheds light on situations
That the caterpillar never considered, ending the eternal struggle
Although the butterfly and caterpillar are completely different
They are one and the same.

Keep inspiring us Caleb!