Butterfly Effect

Butterfly Effect, paper collage, 2021

This post is formatted to reflect an original journal entry.

5/22/21

I buried a dead butterfly yesterday. I’d picked her up along the side of the road when I was out walking the night before. She could no longer fly, and I knew death was probably imminent. So I scooped her up and carried her home. What remarkably short lifespans they have. Better somehow that she should die in my garden beneath a hydrangea plant than exposed on hot pavement.

Be kind to the little ones. Because we, too, are the little ones. This is a revelation, or a shift in consciousness, that’s been slow to develop for me. For as much as I love being outdoors admiring and learning about birds and other wildlife, raising butterflies, and even simply tending to the garden and experiencing the joy of watching it thrive, it’s taken me a long time to realize the degree to which that attitude of nurturing should extend to myself.

It’s a change I first noticed a few weeks ago as I was coming up with material for my new chapbook. Reading through old poetry and flinching like crazy because much of it seemed so…bad. What I would normally do: trash it, burn it (figuratively, of course), possibly delete it from the blog, feel compelled to write all new material because nothing I had was good enough. What I did instead: decided to take what’s good (because there is a lot that’s good) and revise it. Make it better. Help it…and help myself, too

I immediately recognized this shift in attitude and felt it was significant. So I’ve been reflecting on it. My conclusion: in the process of caring for all the small creatures, I have become someone I want to care for, too. That is, I’ve become someone I want to help. Not criticize, not place undue limits on. And not to “keep,” control, or master, either. But care for as one cares for the wild things. An approach I think of as helping without interfering. Or giving myself greater permission to be

Carl Rogers talks a lot about this. Maslow, too. But I don’t know that I ever understood on an experiential level what they meant. Although I think I’m starting to. Be kind to the little ones. Because we, too, are the little ones.

As a side note, I’ve now observed the entire life cycle of a butterfly. Witnessed all the major transformations from birth until death. A metaphor? Maybe.

8 thoughts on “Butterfly Effect

  1. Wonderful, holistic tie in between caring for the butterfly and caring about ourselves, as opposed to being harsh to ourselves, especially as writers. And I love the play on the title.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Bob. It’s my experience that the way we treat the small creatures is a pretty good indication of what’s going on inside of us. And that, in changing our relationship with them, we can also change our relationships with ourselves. Glad you enjoyed the post. Have a great Sunday!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Such transparency and truth. I often look back at things I’ve written and have felt as you do…a cringe within…but as you have so beautifully put, we must nurture ourselves, be patient with ourselves and see the growth…giving ourselves a place within that is safe so that we can strive for more while also loving the process and the steps it takes to get us to where we are going… and I love the metaphor of the butterfly…it never gets old. We can learn so much from the little things that seem to know the perfect balance of when to be still, when to move and when to let go…great job, my friend. And I can’t wait for your chapbook!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s true that finding the nurturer within (when it comes to ourselves more than anyone or anything else) is often very difficult. I actually hope to publish another post on this topic soon, as I’ve been reflecting on these issues quite a bit. Nature teaches us so much about ourselves and is, in many ways, a reflection of what’s within. Thank you, as always, for the supportive feedback. It means a lot!

      Like

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