Butterfly Effect, paper collage, 2021
This post is formatted to reflect an original journal entry.
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.