Butterflies. Again.

I have been thinking about butterflies. Again.

I did not realise that they’d keep dipping in and out of my thoughts when this header was drawn but the coincidence makes me smile.

Chaos theories aside, an hour spent flitting about Google has proved that there’s a whole history of butterfly analogies, though the exact concept I have been searching for remains fittingly elusive –

It touches on the fleeting – and sometimes magical – nature of butterflies, but is more concerned with the importance – and the difficulty – of letting things go.

I was sitting in a friend’s garden yesterday talking about relationships and happiness, and the parts of them that it is easier to talk about on a lazy summer’s afternoon and with someone you really trust. About how elusive the magic moments in life are; and, also, about how hard it is to handle the elusiveness and resist the urge to clutch – because it is terribly difficult, I am finding, to not want to cling onto the things and the people that make you feel good –

And, as I was describing the tension inherent in trying to capture something that can not be caught and the terrifying uncertainty of it all, my friend gave me a great illustration that instantly enabled me to loosen my grip: you have to let butterflies go if you want them to soar. You have to resist the urge to capture or hold or clip the moments of magic; you just have to enjoy them for what they are.

It sounds so obvious but it is so incredibly hard.

“Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” Nathaniel Hawthorne


8 responses to “Butterflies. Again.

  1. So very true. The other morning on my way home from work a butterfly was flitting along ahead of me. It was so beautiful in the sunshine and I pursued it with my camera … but every time I got close enough, it flitted off again. But patience and persistence paid off and on my umpteenth attempt, I did get a photo … perhaps I should have simply sat still and waited for it to come to me? I think, on reflection, that might have been better for both of us…

    • I love the photo! Patience is always interesting to me as I am terrible at waiting and holding anticipation – I guess part of letting things come and go is about the ability to wait and trust…

  2. Beautiful thoughts, and thinking about butterflies is more appropriate and more pleasant than images of clutching at something you love and squeezing it to death. Thanks for giving me a less morbid metaphor to focus on! 🙂

    Accepting that fleeting impermanence and just allowing things to be allows you to appreciate things and doesn’t taint them with tension. This is something I’m trying to live by as well and you put it beautifully – “It sounds so obvious but it is so incredibly hard.” Letting go takes a lot of effort. 😉

    Sigh. Too many paradoxes here. I’m with Phil – let’s just appreciate the pretty butterflies…

    • Thanks James – fleeting impermanence is such a lovely phrase and exactly what I am trying to hold onto (ironically!). That I may not know when the next magic moment will come along – but it will; and that the fear of letting people and experiences go is only lessened if you believe that there are more good moments to come, even if they are currently unseen. Or something.. 😉

  3. I was thinking this week how much happiness is like a butterfly. I remember someone saying (in another context): if you try to catch it, it’ll evade you. If you leave it be, it will come rest on your shoulder

  4. Euch. I still hate butterflies 😉 clearly its time to draw you another header… perhaps one with a Royal Wedding theme…?

    Lovely thoughts from you as ever. But butterflies (apart from being evil) are hesitant and unsure and, well, flappy…
    I see you more like some kind of soaring thing, moving on and up with confidence and grace rather than a glorified moth. 😉

    Much love.

    • Aw! Totally touched. It’s funny that I wasn’t a butterfly fan but now they are cropping up everywhere – images of growth, beauty, magic, science blah blah.

      As much as I am taken by the Royal Wedding, I think I’ll stick with my butterfly! 😉 Or maybe add in some London sunshine!!

      Much love back atcha. xx

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