Conversation with a butterfly
I was standing in a dark forest, the trees were blowing, leaves falling around me. A butterfly appeared before me. It swirled and twirled in the air, circled me three times and landed on a twig nearby.
"You are so beautiful, fragile butterfly" I said.
"You are, too," said the butterfly.
"Why are you here in this dark forest, when you are so beautiful and could be anywhere on such a bright sunny day?" I asked.
"Oh ... you, wondrous human, don't understand how hard it is for a little thing like me, with such fragile wings, to go one way or another in this world, just because I want to. No, it's not at all possible, you see. The wind blew me here, I was looking for a mate. That is what it is like to be a butterfly. Why are you here, in this dark forest on such a bright sunny day like this?" the butterfly asked back.
"I too cannot seem to get where I want to be, sometimes, dear butterfly." I said.
"You see, we humans can walk and talk and do lots of things you can't do. But we still don't always get where we want, sometimes we don't even know what we want. I too am looking for my mate, trying to connect forever, happiness is so impermanent, sometimes." I answered back, appreciating the beauty of the butterfly's wondrous wings.
"Well, I guess we're not so different as it might appear, you know," said the butterfly. "But I only have a few days to find my mate and then I'm going to die."
"I too will die, and time seems so short sometime ... here we are in this dark forest and each looking for another place, what shall we do?" I said.
"Well, you know ... some beings think that happiness is where you find it, here, there, everywhere. Me, I'm not so certain of that. First, I can just sit here till I die, which would be soon enough in your time frame. But then, my life would not be what I really want. So, I guess I must launch off again, soon enough, and hope. But you, you can just walk out of here."
After thinking a bit, I said "Well, dear butterfly, if I were to take you out of here, where would you go?"
"Before I answer you, I must tell you something, dear human. I am like your ideals, your goals, your dreams. I flit here and there, show up once in awhile unexpectedly; if you catch me I will surely die. But if you hold me gently, cherish me, remember me when you are lost in thought, walking through this dark forest, we both might find that sunny place where our loves and mates are waiting for us. If you forget me, lost in thought, are weary from your trek and squeeze too tight, forget about me and just let me fall away, I will surely die in this dark place and you will miss me when you remember, all of a sudden, that I am no longer with you.
"If you will promise to carry me gently, cherish me and protect me I will gladly go with you out of this dark place to find our loves and breathe the bright sunny air. Don't grab me, hold me tight or you will crush the life out of me, such an impractical thing as I am" said the beautiful butterfly.
With that the wind died down, the trees held still. The butterfly drifted in the air before me and landed on my shoulder. I walked slowly and deliberately through the dark forest, knowing that soon we would reach the open spaces and sunlight. The butterfly clung to my shoulder and continued with its discourse.
"Being in harmony with nature is such a wonderful thing. The fact that I will die in such short order is of no consequence to me. From the beginning of my fragile life I've had no illusion of living forever. You on the other hand have so many grand illusions, and fears. One or two days is all I may have with my mate, you on the other hand will have years, if you are lucky. Cherish them all the more, but learn from me. Time will pass, it will take us all, like the tiger and Buddha teach. You won't beat time and death. But you can catch a glimpse of forever in your love, that sparkle in your mate's eyes, just like I do when I see mine."
The butterfly moved closer to my ear, "We won't live forever, maybe you will live longer than me, what difference does it make when the touching, the feeling of our mate's presence gives us a bit of immortality. It's like me floating on the wind, directionless really. It's all such an illusion in the end, just like my becoming from the crawling long green thing I was a few hours ago."
With that we crossed out of the trees and shadows into a great meadow. There was just a light wind and the sky was blue. The grasses blowing back and forth on the horizon as the butterfly lifted off my shoulder into the soothing air. In the distance were hundreds of sparkles, butterflies dancing on the wind, going this way and that in cloud of beauty.
"Don't forget your dreams, dear human. We're here, all around you all the time. Just look for us and when you find us, cherish us, carry us with you, don't hold us too tight or you will crush the life out of us. When it is your turn to die, your heart will be as light as mine. Blown on the winds of your fate like I am on this earthly air, you will be happy just to know you found your mate, you lived your life with her and she with you. For whatever brief instant in this huge universe you were truly happy, and loved. When, in a year or two, you see my grandchildren and the grandchildren of all these other beautiful butterflies, remember me and the continuity of life."
A light gust of wind caught the butterfly before me and sent it fluttering towards the others, flitting in and out of the tall dancing grass at the edge of the forest. Since then I have found myself, floating on the winds of my desires, drawn one way then another, floating in time and space. Blown one way, then another hoping to see my loved one coming towards me, remembering the butterfly and feeling the peace of knowing I was loved from a distance in an imperfect world.