Butterfly – Rambling
(originally from May 2008)
I call this flash ficiton, but is really more free flow prose. Oh well. I’m not making a banner just for that!
They say that time is precious, that each second melting into one another can never be regained and must be lived to its fullest, and in the same breath they say to watch where you step for fear of falling from an unseen edge and landing in pieces on the sharp rocks of disillusionment.
I release the breath I’m holding and, like an indigo jewel, the butterfly flutters away. It fades to nothing against the sky, lost in the tides of a cloud swept azure sea. I watch it go and feel a longing in my heart to follow, though I know I can’t. The butterfly disappears, free from the fetters of this life, and I am left standing in a hopeful field of green, surrounded by the ropes of what was once familiar and safe, but is now a mortal coil of binding steel that wraps around me and binds me to the earth. It holds me in this place until its grip becomes a choke hold and I strangle for a breath of fresh air.
The problems and the worries of this life crowd into my head, pushing out the flights of fancy and pressing away the moments of melodramatic melancholy. There is no time for such thoughts because there is too much that must be done. In this systematic ritual of day to day activities all feeling is lost; chilled to a boneless numb that only touches the subconscious when the sun peeks through and melts the protective crust surrounding it.
In such moments it feels as though I may scream or fall to pieces where I stand like fragile glass shattered into useless shards and left shining on the ground for some unlucky person to collect and discard. Because, in those moments, broken and scattered, I am not worth anything else, I will serve no other purpose than to make the ordered structure of the world untidy and to disrupt the symbolic sanity that we all live within.
What is sanity but another illusion cast by the sun’s dying rays as they fall through crystal prisms of despair? We cling to our rainbows and hold to our hallucinations. We pretend that they are something tangible which can hold us back, and all the while we stand upon the brink of a thousand nightmares, shouting and unfulfilled and never knowing what it is we truly want. We watch eternity pass us by and we clutch at petty feelings. We grip them in our hands as if they are the most important possessions while the larger things pass us by. And though we watch them go and long to reach out they are too big for us to grab unless we let go of all those things we already hold, and we cannot do that. Bitterness, while cold, is at least familiar and something tried and unpleasant is better than something untested.
That untested road is where the butterfly goes now, but not I. Afraid to live, afraid to die, I cannot fly away because I have no wings and my feet are stuck in the cement of suffocating sameness, trapped by all the unimportant details that make up a life, choked by regrets and weaknesses. With eyes shining of unrealized expectations I watch the spot that he was last, waiting for him to reappear but he is gone and I am alone. A lost soul staring at the sky and waiting for impossibility to become reality and for a hero to come and save me from myself.
But there are no heroes left, there is only me and this green field and the memory of my lost butterfly who even now has forgotten my face. And yet I stand and wait because what else is there to do? To save myself is too hard, like moving mountains from their eternal home and leaving them on the doorsteps of unsuspecting victims; a cold and lifeless heap of rock for them to find when they open their door in the morning, coffee in their hand and expecting to find their newspapers. And the shock of such a thing would be enough to tear them from their tidy world of measured moments and ticking clocks, and leave them reeling and gasping for something to hold onto.
What I need is not a hero or a butterfly, but a mountain. Something to make my eyes open wide and to throw the preconceived stillness into chaotic disarray filled with noise and thunder. A magic bolt of illuminating inconvenience to open up the vast chasm of disorder and newness, but such a thing can never happen because they have gone the way of my butterfly, stamped out in favor of a semblance of order and unresolved productivity. Now nothing but the dust of dreams remains and perhaps if I am fast I can catch it in my hands and hold onto it until something better comes along. That is the way of the world, or so we have been told, and to fight such an established order would be a waste of breath. Better instead to stand still and wish for things we cannot hold, better to dream of far green mountains than to step from the cement of daily order and find that the world outside our rusted bucket didn’t live up to all the expectations; better never to know than to be disappointed.
Or so they say.
Fav song of the moment – “incomplete”- The Last Goodnight
Thank you Jo for posting this. I just came home from my aunt’s funeral, and when I read this…I don’t know, it was what I needed to read. My step-mom has a theory about dealing with death. She thinks that it’s important to surround yourself with beauty after experiencing the death of a loved one. When her first husband died of cancer, she said she went to every art gallery and museum she could. She read poetry. She said it helped her a great deal. When I read your flash fiction piece, I felt as thoough I were being surrounded by beauty. I really needed that tonight. Thank you.
I’m so glad to hear that! 😀 It was a cathartic write at the time, so especially glad to know it helped someone else, too!
I think she’s right. i find that whenever I get upset/depressed/stressed out/etc etc the best thing to do is take some time to input things that I find “beautiful” (it’s often anime, I can admit it!) or “cute”.