3 days ago
Monday, August 1, 2011
For as long as I can remember I have been a little obsessed with butterflies. They quickly attract my attention, and if one is floating by I'll stop everything to watch it. When I was a child they seemed like fairies. Beautiful, fast moving, colorful things will attract the attention of any child, of course, but I'm still suffering pretty acutely with this ADD behavior around butterflies.
As I became a little older, about high school, I started identifying more with the idea that butterflies represented a glorious end-state. What starts as a crawling caterpillar bursts forth into a beautiful, winged, angelic creature - a perfect metaphor for growing up and getting an adult life of my own. I started using butterflies now and then as images to represent myself.
And then, as more years went by and the true extent of my mental illnesses became apparent, the butterfly represented a new dimension of change - changing from something lowly, even ugly, that must crawl, into something gorgeous, heavenly, perfect, that can fly. This was the change I wanted to make, and I started using butterflies as my icons all the time. I collect stamps, and I found a few butterfly stamps that I would take out and look at regularly.
In graduate school I visited one of those live butterfly exhibits, this one in Houston. You can sit in a replicated rain forest, quietly on a bench, and watch scores of butterflies flitter less than a dozen feet away. I saw a real blue morpho butterfly alive for the first time. One landed on my arm. Several butterflies had landed on me that day, but it was the brilliant blue one that had me riveted. Wow. Blue has always been my favorite color It became the indelible icon of my hope for greater mental health.
The symbol of freedom.
A butterfly even flew around under the wedding canopy during my wedding ceremony, and we all couldn't help but consider it a good omen.
The last few years have been a struggle to alter the image into something a little more accepting. The idea I have been moving towards as a result of my mediation is that I am already the butterfly. This is me, and this is now. I might feel like a caterpillar, but the wings are already in place. As enlightenment is likened to a flower, slowly opening its petals, I now see myself as a butterfly learning to spread her wings. The idea is to focus on that acceptance, that realization. We are not ugly. We are not broken. We are already gorgeous butterflies who need to open our wings and get some flying lessons.
My sister surprised me with an amazing birthday present this year, a real (sustainably farmed, previously deceased by natural causes) blue morpho butterfly. While it feels a little strange to my OCDs to bring a dead insect into the house, the basement is already full of them, living and late. :) Besides, I'm not so literally minded that I equate myself to a dead butterfly preserved in glass - that would be more the princess trapped in an ivory tower thing. Definitely not my self image. In any case I thought it was a fabulous gift and put it on the wall over my desk.
It is beautiful, a wonderful symbol and reminder. You are beautiful. You are already what you are supposed to be. Freedom is right now. Open your wings and fly.
Your Hostess With Neuroses
Image credit/info: My own blue morpho
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