Irrelevant, but Important: Did ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ Predict the Wellness Movement?

hungry caterpillar book

I’ve been getting pretty wrapped up in children’s books lately — partially because I now have kids and reading them is par for the course. (Is that the term? I never actually know. I can look it up, but I recently read that when you disrupt the writing process, it takes 23 minutes to get back into “the zone,” and I’m not sure figuring out whether it is par for the course or part of the course is worth the interruption.) But anyway, I’ve been getting pretty wrapped up in children’s books lately. Partially because I now have kids and reading them is [insert saying here], but also because as a result of having them, I’m constantly being reminded that all the stuff we do to facilitate their developmental growth is beneficial for the growth of a seasoned mind, too.

Actually, maybe that’s not it at all, maybe it’s beneficial for the nurturing of a seasoned mind. There’s a difference, right? Nurturing might mean embracing stillness, which is possibly the opposite of growth. Idk. Anyway, I’ve also been stringing together pony beads, which has been really helpful to get my mind thinking for the sake of thinking — as opposed to working, or reaching any kind of lofty destination. I’ve also been playing with Play-Doh. I knead and pat and roll with the conviction of a voracious baker and then feel evil because my kids are too young to play with me, so they watch and then get annoyed that I won’t let them participate. Insert judgment here, I can take it. But I will say that I try to compensate by pulling out a book to read to them.

My favorite one now is the same one I loved as a kid: The Very Hungry Caterpillar. The premise of the book is meh, so I suppose what I gravitate toward is really how it is illustrated. The renderings are so deliberate and artful and elegant. I don’t know why but they make me feel smarter or something. Like I’m more cultured, or maybe just simply have better taste than I actually do. Does anything do that for you? Do you know what I mean?

To my point about the premise, though, I was reading it to my daughters this morning and it occurred to me that this 50-year old literary giant may have foretold the wellness movement. How? Rly glad you asked!

So this caterpillar is moseying through his day, right? (Alternative opinion: the caterpillar is actually an ovulating “her.”) Eating an apple, but not getting full. Trying a couple pears, but nary an iota of relief in sight. Consuming some blue shit, strawberries, oranges, etc., until finally, our dissatisfied diner goes HAM at the buffet with cake and ice cream, some pickles, salami, a lollipop, muffins and so on and so forth. Guess what, though? The caterpillar is still not satisfied. Sick to its stomach, yes, but not full (maybe this is the part wherein SHE actually gets her period, but I digress…). So, finally, the caterpillar eats through a single leaf (just the one!) and ta da, he’s full. So full that he wraps himself up in a cocoon and two weeks later re-emerges as this insanely beautiful butterfly. Like, Beyoncé beautiful. As in, “I woke up like this.”

And all because of that one leaf — a magical “super green,” if you will. I don’t know, it seems pretty convincing, but obviously my opinion is biased.

What’re you doing for dinner?

Photo by Louisiana Mei Gelpi.

Leandra M. Cohen

Leandra M. Cohen is the founder of Man Repeller.

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