Day 263 - Speaking Butterfly...
I know I am probably overdoing this metaphor but it is working for me so I am gonna go there, again...
I have written about the whole caterpillar/butterfly thing quite a bit lately. In part because this metaphor is so rich with insight, so many places where the human experience can be explained, explored and perhaps, if we are lucky, better understood.
So what the hell does speaking butterfly even mean?
Well, that is the great thing about it, it can mean whatever you want, it is personal and individual. But I also think that it carries with it a deep meaning, it is speaking the language of the heart. It is speaking with love and understanding and an honest desire to really see, connect and love. It is connection and communication in its ultimate form.
If that is speaking butterfly, then in contrast, what the hell does speaking caterpillar mean?
I think speaking caterpillar is the talk that comes before the transformation. It is where a lot of people live. They never learn to speak butterfly...they never feel the urge to transform...they are just out there consuming everything in sight and working really hard to not get picked off by birds. It isn’t that caterpillar is less ethereal, it is just that it is hard to talk with your mouth full all the time...you can’t really have a conversation about what your world looks like when the focus of your life is about consuming and preparing for some other day...there is a lack of presence in caterpillar land...you are only there to become something else, and I think that there are a lot of people who lives the whole of their lives right there, never content with what is happening, always only living to become something else consuming all the while.
But once the transformation takes place, that persona is gone. No more caterpillar but what I have learned recently is that the transformed insect doesn’t necessarily get a new language with the change. The language of transformation comes only with a lot more work.
So in my estimation there are a lot of butterflies flitting all about speaking caterpillar. Caterpillar is grounded, sensible, predictable. The topics are safe. The intonation clear. The message? Work hard. Consume. Change. Consume some more. Die.
But there is this other thing that could happen to caterpillars who are forever changed into butterflies, they can learn to speak a new language. The language of the heart. This new language lifts the purpose of one’s life past the hard work, consumption, changes and death. The language moves the being on to something greater.
So no caterpillars speak butterfly and only some butterflies really gain mastery over their new language. I think for the most part, they spend an inordinate amount of time flitting about trying to speak butterfly to beings that only speak caterpillar. As you might guess, not much comes across, there is a chasm between the two languages that results in not a lot being communicated.
So how does one learn to speak butterfly?
First you must find out what you learned and didn’t learn as a caterpillar.
Next you must take the time to inventory and find out what happened before, during and after the change. Then you have to learn to love it all. Every hard thing, every ounce of pain in the delicate and precarious life you led. You have to see all the places you zigged when you should have zagged. And you have to allow it to break you down and crack you open. All of the things that happened to you and didn’t happen to you have to find some place to call their own inside your chest. You have to allow it all to be the beautiful mess that it is and come to love it anyway.
Then, and I would vehemently argue that only then, can you begin to speak butterfly...this willingness to go toward the pain, to come to know it well. To not disassociate, numb out the pain, just to allow it its rightful, humble place in your life, is how you learn to speak butterfly.
Speaking butterfly takes time. It takes heart. It takes a commitment to living a life based upon principles that are more important than the circumstances. It is giving up situational ethics for a functioning moral compass that points true north. It is a blind willingness to follow that compass’ direction regardless of what your head tells you. It is staying on course when everything in your head tells you to take the shortcut, alter course, leave the path. It is staying when you want to run and perhaps running when you want to stay.
Speaking butterfly is an evolutionary language. It is current and developing and ever changing. It requires presence and heart and a commitment to refusing to pick up the easy methods for dealing with life: attacking, indulging and ignoring. Again and again and again. Over and over again until your existence has worn out its welcome in this life.
To speak butterfly, means that you love more than you like. You give more than you take. And you are here more than you leave. The best part of speaking butterfly is that you simply begin...right now, despite your lack of vocabulary. Despite your lack of fluency...it is ok, just start with one true thing. Tell us about that. Spread your wings and just start speaking from the heart...the words will come with practice and patience. They will come, every single time, if we just begin.