I saw this butterfly one time and it looked really beat up. This was at the Butterfly House I visited in Aruba, early this year.
I’ll never forget it because it effected me profoundly.
If you’ve been reading my writing you know the connection I have with butterflies.
I had been snapping pics of all different types of butterflies, all fluttering gaily, and then I saw this black one that looked like it had been through a war. It was old, maybe dying. It definitely looked like it had seen a thing or two. It looked defeated. The emotion I felt from it, just looking at it, was incredibly real. I felt its sadness and its pain.
It was what I could become.
I realized, just because you’re a butterfly, doesn’t mean you have an easy life. I mean, flying around isn’t always paradise. You can get clobbered. You can get caught in a net or you can get steamrolled or you can get sprayed with pesticide.
You can lose a chunk of one wing, or you can have some kid wickedly pull one off.
When I was a kid, there was this boy in the school yard that used to torture butterflies. I used to try to protect them, of course. He was the epitome of what I don’t like in this world. It taught me about cruelty, at a young age. Some people really don’t care. They laugh at the destruction of what is most sacred and precious to another. And the butterflies – little yellow ones, I remember them to this day– lay there crushed on the blacktop. The light of the universe, the breath of God, broken and destroyed for this kid to have something to do.
As for being a butterfly… it can teach this lesson: Just because you’re a thing of beauty, doesn’t mean you get treated well.
And just because you’re divine, doesn’t mean you have it easy. You can forget what you are. You can just stop flying. One day you can just decide “I’ve failed.” And you sit down, on a rock, and you just stay there. You can isolate yourself from life. You can decide to be still.
Then maybe your wings atrophy and you become an accountant. And one day, someone reminds you of what you are, and says, why can’t you get off the ground?
But you’ve been so demoralized and denatured and destroyed…. That you don’t know. And you say, “What do you mean? I’m late for my job as an accountant.”
So this is what could happen. Or you could be the yellow butterfly crushed on the pavement. Of you could be sitting on the rock thinking you’ve failed.
Point being…. Butterflies can’t just be the thing admired and praised.
They sometimes need to be saved.
How do you save a butterfly? You remind it… that it can fly.