The Butterfly

I was on my morning run, when a few feet ahead a big brown leaf tumbled to the ground. Leaves are nothing unusual, but what I saw next was. On the ground was a large tan butterfly, with beautiful blue eye markings on the lower wings and small almost mirror like eye markings on the upper. I have seen and photographed butterflies, but none were this big or this beautiful.

I bent down to pick it up and expected it to fly away. Instead it stumbled and flitted, but couldn’t take flight. I gently picked it up, thoroughly amazed at its beauty and fragility. I placed in my hand or should I say on it; it was large enough to cover my hand.

It made a feeble attempts to fly, but would just fall to the ground. I wasn’t sure if it was injured or in it’s final moments. Regardless, I was going to give it a safe place and I gently placed one hand over the other as if I was carrying a fragile glass and walked at a slow pace.

The slower pace was actually quite welcome. I really didn’t feel like running anyway because I feel like I’m always running somewhere; to work, to the grocery store, to do the laundry, etc.

Eventually I removed one hand and it just sat in my palm. Of course, I had nothing to capture a picture with and wanted to turn around and go home. I was a mile away so I just stayed the course. No sense in turning this peaceful moment into a rush adventure just to capture a photo.

As I rounded a curve, the butterfly crawled up my palm and sat on the edge of my hand. It was like it wanted to see where we were going. It sat there taking in the view as the path meandered around the golf course and near the trees.

And then it happened; it went tipped forward off my palm, tumbled down to toward the ground, and……unexpectedly took flight. Further and further it flew, climbing higher as it went, and eventually settling into a tall tree. I stood there in amazement and yet a little sad. Like all animal releases, you’re glad to see it return to the wild, but sad to see it go.

I carried on with my walk and realized how nice it was to provide a safe place from the world for the butterfly to just recoup and gather its bearings. I could use one of those little breaks!

Shortly after returning home, a friend called;”want to take a ride?”. I was cooking breakfast, had a full day of tasks planned, but I said “lets go!”. We took the scenic drive near the ocean, had a long relaxing lunch, and spent the day doing nothing particular with no schedule. It was exactly what we both needed to let go, regroup, and renergize.

Sometimes we can get a little beat up and making our way can be difficult. We flit about, here and there, not really making any progress. Taking a short break from it all to regroup (with a good friend really helps) can be just what we need to get off the ground and take flight again.

Attention helps us Thrive

This is an excerpt from my new book Climb that Fence, take that Leap which is a compilation of animal stories and the life insights I observed. I wrote it to encourage people to make positive changes and bring more awareness to the animals. Available on Amazon, I hope you enjoy the stories and I’d love to hear yours, so feel free to drop me a line.

Things Come Alive with Attention:
Ever since I took Keiko (my cat) to the park that day and let her out every evening, she was wired. Every morning she was under foot, walking around the kitchen and living room. I’d be upstairs getting dressed and here would come this spindly, almost wobbly cat blasting up the stairs.

At times, it was really annoying to hear the constant meowing, so I’d pick her up. “What is your problem?” I’d ask. I thought she might be in pain. As soon as I picked her up, all I heard was the familiar sound of contentment: purring.

What had changed with her? I had not given her any different medicine, and she had become skinnier by the day. But something was obviously different.

Let’s see, she went from just hanging around the house and receiving whatever “leftover” attention I had to being the first to receive attention. She received my attention first and foremost, and we spent quality time together.

Even if I had other things I “should have” been doing, I took time to make sure she went outside and had fun. The more time I spent with her, the more alive she became.

Just like a plant that requires water regularly, we all need regular, meaningful attention—validation that we are loved, that someone cares, that we make a difference. Without that knowing, we become lethargic and lost, and we lose hope.

When we think that no one cares, it often shows. It is easy to put on a tough exterior and give the appearance that we don’t care, but deep down it can be pretty lonely on our own.

The basic need to be loved is universal among people and animals. Pets fill that need and do it unconditionally. No matter the day, our relationship, or our status, our pets love us anyway. That’s why we enjoy them so much and why they’re often used in therapy. There’s something soothing about petting a happy fur ball.

Stop and think right now: Where can you show some attention that would make a difference? Where have you taken someone/a pet for granted? Write a thank you note, make a phone call, bring home dinner, turn off the TV, etc. Take a few minutes out of your day and give some love.

Just a few minutes is all it takes. You’ll be surprised how alive someone will feel. Guess what, so will you!!!