Months ago, in the summer sun, my heart raw, my mind shell-shocked, my energy barely humming, the sight of shocking monarch glory on the ground stopped me short. Lying on the ground, clearly dead. I stooped down, was she playing dead? They do that. But no. I picked it up. It troubled my heart deeply. I couldn’t let anyone step on her. I might break the wings accidentally. But I knew it would not be an indifferent heart or unseeing eyes scrambling past and crushing something precious. I knew if I let my car moves do their dance, the wings would probably chip. I’d take her home, bury her. But she wouldn’t be trampled unseen. So, I put her in my car and drove away. She stayed there a while. Her colors singing anything but death. I couldn’t bury her yet. (Call the psych experts, she’s begging for a disorder label!! tag her! pin her! mount her on the wall!!! see?! i told you she’s a monarch! and she thought she could fly!)
Things break. People go down and stay down for a long time. Me included. I can’t say how many times I’ve muttered to the sky lately: “you sure you’re not just a mo fo?” Well, really, I say that expletive fully. No shortened clever bit. Just all of it, daring the once-existing patriarchal saturnical snarl. I never do get a response. Invariably something really kind happens and I shrug, realizing I’m suppose to grin and gasp with grateful glee. It’s just not in me. Not lately. I do feel appreciative, joyful moments fleeting. But that long sustained sense of strength, of flight plans sure and true…long, long overdue. It will return…? Must it? I would like even just a bit but mostly I’m just glad to put one foot and then the other.
Life is conspring to bless me, some say. I say life is conspiring to challenge my faith in love, in faith itself, and in life itself while also conspiring to affirm those very things. It’s a sometimes sick twist of contradictions I’d rather not have to contend with. But isn’t that the human story? Ah. It is. (could we catch a bit of a break? please?)
I can’t sleep tonight. When you’re forced to rest often, the days and nights can blur together into a long stretch of a body sighing, trying and then murmuring about football tossing with a son, fun exercise too soon but without regret. Or the lack of nap intended so that the final descent into sleep isn’t 3am, that same lack creating this afternoon zombie state and moments of complete despair. Why did I run a fever today? A bit high again. (Don’t ask me about doctors, ok? I’m not stupid. I promise. This has been with me off and on for over 20 years. No, I don’t want attention. It’s just my story and I’m not trying to hide the fact that, at this point, it shapes my world in blurring lines of fatigue. I won’t pretend to worry that you’re going to know my less “positive” self.)
This is minor. So many tough stories living out their songs of effort and hope and despair all day, every day and nothing like my own managable reality. But there are days I feel like I got put in a car and my wings are chipped and I just need the earth and cool quiet quit and all the time in the world before I crumble all the way, return as tree or weed or something perkier than my current state. (No. Not a death wish. Just a sense of a dying away from a former state of living my life and morphing into something different. And not the first time and wow. Why must it be so intensely unique every time?)
Where does a blog post like this go? It just stops like that butterfly at my feet. It says g’nite and. I hear the best things take a bit of time. And some say that maybe God’s not a mo fo and has even the slightest humor divine. But today, I don’t know. And I don’t much care what people say of this joke divine. I just know I want to float again and sing songs.
But first, the rest.
3 thoughts on “Butterflies”
it’s so very difficult to motivate our children when the system is what it is… i can only point you to my empathy for you and for your boys in the posts “south park meets alan watts” and “revolution required?” i’m finding i must tell my kids, “it’s not about how respectable or respectful or fair your teachers are or are not, how presumputuous, boring, rude or erroneous they may be…it’s about how you must get this tool in this world or you’ll not thrive as well as you’d like and believe me, you’ll wish you had this if you don’t get it…” we’ll see how it goes. hard sell to make when they have to give up all sense of autonomy beyond the maze of mundane daily blah and then face accusers who tell them “YOU are in CONTROL of your life.” no wonder they say “HA! I’ll show you control!” i’ve some nephews who didn’t finish high school, got into plenty of trouble. and they’re not happy about that fact now. they’re paying and paying very dearly for it. it’s just the maturity issue…our world does not make room for children to grow into adulthood with real solid rewards that affirm the value of the effort (school is endless work with a letter grade and no sense of real world accomplishment unless you just really dig ego boosts without solid tangible reward measurable in daily life), to actually grow into an awareness of why their education is needful. and it’s difficult to make that sell without making it clear that it’s about complying with what the world has become (however flawed and numbing) in order to survive while somehow continuing to nurture the hope that the world can change. and that maybe our kids can be agents of change. with a “sell” like that, it’s difficult not to feel like a hypocrite since teens see things in more “all or nothing” terms. the thing i see in the education system (into college and beyond) is that there is precious little regard for the person and far too many teachers full of disrespect and demanding far more than they give. not all of them…but many. too many. embodying what they insist is wrong and pulling the “i’m the teacher” card. i wish there were apprenticeship programs…where teens can begin to work within an industry or field of interest while schooling, changing the timeline and the emptiness of the final “diploma,” making it more real…maybe even making it take longer but less of an empty accomplishment beyond “I survived.” even then…there would be those who just have to learn the hardest way.
meanwhile, i feel you. the crumble is inevitable, isn’t it? we’ll rise again. and again. it’s so difficult to discern the point at which we should quit being our kids’ motivation and allowing them to reap their unfortunate sowing. they have so little awareness of how cruel the world can be until it’s a bit too late.
i never see such outpourings as yours here to be whining, btw. it’s unloading, it’s purging. wholly needful stuff. so lovely to hear from you again, cuz. oxo…
wow…that’s long. i type so fast i don’t realize…gulp…
I know I read this late, but I’m glad I did. I really enjoyed it. Nicely written, and dared me to offer perspective. My oldest boy is suppose to graduate this spring. He can’t fail a single class without putting that in jeopardy. I know he is intelligent enough to do it, but I’m not convinced of his maturity. I’m doing with holding his hand through every class (yelling, pleading, micro-managing, etc.). Worse than that, my younger boy is in danger of failing all his freshman classes. He cannot seem to get along with any teacher but one, and he’s even quit working in that class. He’s currently suspended for three days for insubordinate behavior (wouldn’t leave the classroom when the teacher told him to). Yes, you heard several big, deep, heart-aching sighs throughout that whining. I just keep praying and trusting that their natural intelligence will win out over their hormones and teenage impaired vision.