What the Butterfly Would Say:
On the Wings of Transformation, Hope, and Life
By: Jakob Cutter
We have a particular fascination with butterflies. Not only are they amazing pollinators, fun to watch and beautiful, but they instill in us a wonderful sense of transformation, hope, and life.
The life of a butterfly is a journey of stages and rebirth and it reflects changes in our own lives. It is easy to understand why we would find inspiration from them.
As I write this, I have a specific condition in mind: cancer. However, the metaphor extends to other physical conditions, as well as conditions of the mind, heart, and spirit. It extends to the difficulties of life, in general. We are always enduring and thriving.
As we know, the butterfly begins its life story as an egg and from there it becomes a caterpillar. The most notable change is from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly. Now, I don’t know much about butterfly psychology—whether they anticipate their metamorphoses from caterpillar to butterfly, but they certainly do make it look easy.
It is not an easy feat though. When the butterfly emerges, its wings are soft and folded. The process is usually bloody, or what appears to be a blood-like substance. Once out, their soft wings unfold and harden, at which time the butterfly takes to the sky to do their graceful aerial dance. Even then, the life of a butterfly is not easy; there are predators, parasites, and pesticides that threaten them.
I don’t know if the butterfly knows its destiny, I don’t know if it looks forward to becoming a butterfly, but I believe that it is the journey that matters. A person close to me who is undergoing chemotherapy told me that when he sees a butterfly, he sees that it chose life. The butterfly’s journey is life affirming despite all obstacles.
I cannot fathom the difficulties of undergoing treatment, living with, and surviving cancer. I cannot fathom the courage it takes to face something so scary. I won’t pretend to understand. The physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual toll it takes on the person living with cancer is enormous. It is transforming. The toll it takes on family is massive. In a time of so many scary changes and uncertainty we must look to hope, for which the butterfly is a classic symbol. I'm reminded of a quote, paraphrased: “But we rejoice in our sufferings because we know that trials build perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us.” We can look to the butterfly for this.
Imagine what the butterfly may tell us about these things, about transformation, hope, life... uncertainty. If that graceful aerial dance was an interpretive dance, I believe the butterfly would say: “Even with a broken wing, I still hope! I still live! I still fly!”
Jakob Cutter is a graduate of Indiana University with degrees in History and Psychology with a minor in Sociology. He is currently working as a butterfly farmer at Butterfly Dan’s in Kissimmee, Florida.
Sunday, December 19, 2010
What the Butterfly Would Say: