the “Imperfect” Butterfly


My amazing friend Shawn wrote this today and I had to share:

A letter to my beautiful children explaining our experience with the “Imperfect” butterfly.
6/25/12
It isn’t necessarily fair for me to project emotions and feelings onto this little butterfly’s experience but I’m compelled to document the details of this butterfly’s story as a metaphor for you three. Its my hope that his messages can continue to be a source of strength as you travel through difficult times on your way to a greatness that is beyond even your most fantastic dreams.

I am not sure how clearly you remember, but this is the third time that we have raised painted lady butterflies. The process of transformation from caterpillar to butterfly is such a miracle. I love how the experience always brings important messages and lessons whether 3 years, 10 years or even old like me ;-).

This story takes place on a beautiful Monday morning in San Diego, but we are all a little grumpy and EXHAUSTED. It is stressful in our home because of the impending move to Italy. Papa has already left, I am swamped with work and we are all nervous about the unknown that lies ahead. I had chosen this time on purpose, feeling that being reminded of the beauty in the butterflies’ difficult transition might offer some strength to all of us. I could never have predicted how powerful and perfect the experience would turn out to be. This morning, the 5 butterflies had been out of their chrysalis for about a day and it was becoming apparent that one of them was struggling.
I believe that there is a life force or energy inside of every living thing that does not die but continues to experience new lifetimes attached to various physical forms. I believe that every living thing has a purpose, a reason for being and that these caterpillars turned Painted Lady butterflies are no different. As we watched over this one butterfly that was really struggling to use his wings, I was imagining the experience from his perspective. The day had finally come that his transformation was complete. He slowly stretches out his wings. He’s nervous, excited and a little proud of his accomplishment. As he becomes accustomed to this new version of his physical form, something doesn’t feel right. He struggles. He falls. He struggles some more. Then, he looks at the other butterflies near him. He sees that he is not the same and he is overcome with frustration. He feels like a failure. After all that hard work, he ended up different and isn’t able to fly like the others. In this moment, he gets really negative and starts thinking to himself, “How am I ever going to carry out a butterfly’s purpose in life if I can’t even fly? What good is a butterfly that can’t use his wings? He struggles a few more times but gets tired. Overwhelmed with hopelessness, he gives up.

Do you remember that moment, Peep? Do you remember how worried you were for him? Breckin and I felt your love so strongly that it touched our hearts and connected the three of us in love. To me, it felt like our love filled the room and gave that little butterfly the strength to keep trying. Our combined love inspired him to do his best to carry out whatever his life’s purpose was, even if it was to simply die and be thrown back to the earth to nourish new life. It is like that little guy surrendered to the divine plan, even though things were really difficult. Do you remember when he gained that courage? In that moment, our little butterfly found the strength to flip himself over and correct his wings just long enough to give us hope. When that happened I thought that maybe we shouldn’t wait to let these five butterflies go. I figured that we could give this struggling one the best chance of survival if he was free.
It was a beautiful little ceremony that we had as we told them how grateful we were to share in their transformation. We imagined the great life that each individual butterfly might lead, understanding that being a part of the cycle of life and nourishing another living thing was a likely and beautiful purpose. It was such an incredible moment. I felt like you girls really understood how interconnected life is and how important each and every creature is to the whole system. Thatcher, it was really amazing to watch you experience this for the very first time. Seeing the world through your eyes is a constant reminder of the wonder and amazement in every detail of life.
One by one, you girls set them free. I enjoyed acknowledging their differences in how they approached the world…one was bold and took off fast without even giving it a second thought. One needed some encouragement and felt afraid to leave the safety of the small net cage. Another left the cage quickly but then stopped to rest in a tree for a long time before setting off on his journey. It’s fun to think that he was planner and had stopped to create a little mental itinerary for his journey ahead. The fourth one seemed to stay just long enough to allow you three (and especially you, Thatcher) to experience him up close. Then, that last little butterfly with the deformed wings seemed to be in trouble. We were sad, but we really wanted to let him out and give him a chance in nature. Breckin, as a born nurturer of all living things, had the courage to help him. You gently placed him in a bush where he was hidden and we were grateful that no matter what, he would be a part of nature, a part of the interconnected web of life. As we held hands, soaking up the beauty of this ceremony, the imperfect little butterfly struggled again to fly but instead fell from the bush. A waiting lizard immediately came and gobbled him up before I could do anything to protect your eyes and hearts. While Thatcher was now lost in the wonder of the lizard’s skill, this was devastating to you girls. I tried and tried to help you understand that we were gifted this experience for a reason. That this was this little butterfly’s purpose in life and that it was a very beautiful purpose to have. I tried so hard to explain to you that this upsets us because we had created a different story for his life and we were upset when the Divine plan was not in alignment with our expectations. I told you how it is very important to be open to whatever the divine plan is, because usually it is much greater, more important, more beautiful than anything we could even dream. When I was pregnant with each of you, I couldn’t help but dream of how amazing you would be. I imagined these incredible people that were perfect in every way I could think of. Guess what? Each of you has turned out to be more amazing than even the most perfect person I could dream of! It is so important to stay open to all possibilities as we live our lives. It is so easy to continuously stand in our own way on our life’s path as we over-think and feel afraid to surrender to the unknown.

Do you know that each of you is going to change the world in a really big way? I KNOW THIS WITH EVERY FIBER OF MY BEING. I’m serious! Breckin, you were born with a rare gift. You already feel connected to every living thing on this earth. You were born understanding and feeling the divine energy that unifies life. Peep, you have been born a leader, a role model. You have an unwavering self-confidence and the courage to follow your heart even if it means going against everyone you know. Thatcher, you are fearless as you go through life. You have a tenacity and perseverance that will allow you to accomplish whatever you choose to. I could never have imagined children so amazing, I am so grateful that I stayed open to allowing you to come into my life. You have each been amongst the most influential teachers I have ever had.

As I was trying so hard to explain this and help you find peace, I was overcome with an even greater understanding. In that moment, I clearly felt the divine presence in this entire poetic experience. Tears fell from my eyes as I saw how that little imperfect butterfly’s purpose was so much more than being the incredible gift of nourishment for the lizard. Not only did this little butterfly bring us all together in love on a day that we were feeling a little sad, but he served as a beautiful metaphor for our human experience. This little butterfly with the imperfect wings was not imperfect at all. He was exactly as divinely intended. We are all exactly as divinely intended. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS BROKEN OR IMPERFECT OR DAMAGED AMONGST LIVING THINGS. The perfection of this “imperfect” butterfly, can give us strength in difficult times of life as we remember that a greatness of unfathomable magnitude lies ahead.

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