On Saturday afternoon I was sitting on the front lawn with a cup of tea and a text book, when one of the kids ran past with a shoe box. Guessing that some small creature was being ‘re-homed’ I asked what was in the box.
‘Oh, just a butterfly.’
Now cast your mind back to when you were a child, and you saw a butterfly and longed to hold it, or pick it up, or keep it as your pet, and a well-meaning adult said, ‘oh you can’t do that! If you touch a butterfly wings it will never fly again!’ Well, I said that.
Or rather I got cross, and said how we had had this discussion two weeks ago about butterflies and now the butterfly would die.
‘It won’t die! It just can’t fly now,’ I was told matter of factly.
‘What do you think happens to a butterfly that can’t fly?’ I said exasperated, and by the look that past over their face, I’m guessing I made my point.
Now it might have been because I was in a little bit of an emo mood that day, but the comment about how the butterfly wouldn’t die, but just be earth-bound for the rest of its life, bothered me. In fact, if that scene was playing in a movie, there would have been a moment where I would have jumped up out of my chair, spilt my tea and declared passionately, ‘don’t take my wings!’ Much to the confusion and despair of the poor child with the shoe box, and my own surprise. I’m against butterfly cruelty as a general rule, but I didn’t expect that type of reaction.
But, like I said, I was emo.
There were a few reasons why, none of which are worth getting into here, but over the next few hours I pondered that remark further. For starters, I was upset I had a child that thought it was ok to keep a butterfly earth-bound, but I was also bothered that there are people like that in the world. Not people who are cruel to insects so to speak, but those who are content to stop people flying for their own amusement. Some times I think it’s unintentional — such as when teenagers in the height of their need for social acceptance enforce ridiculous appearance pressures on their friends and reduce their individuality to nought — and sometimes it is, like when people attack others just to bring them down.
Perhaps what bothered me the most though, as I sat on my front lawn gazing out to sea and not really seeing it (you can see the ocean from my front yard — #bragalert), was how often I sabotage my own wings, by thinking of a hundred reasons why I can’t, or shouldn’t, or really needn’t ought to fly. And maybe, how sometimes by the grounding of myself, I inadvertently ground those around me as well. Because when you’re free to be you, it’s easy to let others be free to be themselves, but when you’re not the reverse can also be true. Quite like those adolescents I just mentioned.
In fact, the more I thought about it, the more I realised that the very reason for my emoness (that should be a word), was because I had lost a couple of scales from wings and so grounded myself in a box and decided I would never fly again. Of course if I was a real butterfly, that would be the definition of insanity. Not only because it’s profoundly dangerous, but also because it would be running contrary to its very name. And who wants to be called a butter? I personally can’t stand the stuff.
Now since this whole tragic event and mental unfolding, I have googled butterfly facts and found out that touching a butterfly does not necessarily mean they won’t fly again. That’s something of a myth (not that I think I’ll be revealing that to the kids anytime), which is nice really, because it plays into this whole analogy really well. It means that even if you have taken a few hits and maybe lost some scales, you’re not destined to sit on the ground and wait for some bird to eat you. You can get up and flutter away, and do whatever it is that you do that makes flying the brilliant thing that it is.
Of course, I’m not really a butterfly and neither are you, and hopefully none of us will be stuffed into a shoe box any time soon (or ever come to think of it), or have anyone say, ‘she’ll be right — she just can’t fly.’ But maybe there’s someone else out there feeling a bit emo who feels like shouting out, ‘don’t take my wings!’ or something really dramatic, and like, me, you need a little encouragement that it’s ok to fly. Because it is. And you should. And that’s what IBOT is about — a place to fly and a place to admire all those that fly with you.
But let’s just keep it metaphorical ok. I don’t want anyone to hurt themselves. 🙂
How’ve you been this week?
Anyone feeling like they lost their wings?
Did you know that the wing touching thing was a myth?