I caught the butterfly in my net. I’d waited patiently for this one, beautiful wings and vibrant colours. It was a stunning specimen, the very best that I had seen that day. Over the mesh went and into it I peered, past the plastic to the beautiful creature underneath. Gingerly I held the net neck closed but not close and nudged the jar closer. I still don’t remember how I got the butterfly in, but I did. Down screwed the lid and back went my eyes, peering at what nature had created with a flourish. The wings danced, the body bobbed and I watched fascinated, a child watching magic trapped.
Sooner or later, the triumph and curiosity wore off. The bobbing was slowing, the wings no longer carrying vibrant rainbow colours up and down for me to watch. Life was drop, dropping before my eyes and so was my stomach. The childish inner shouts of glee were being shouted down by a more elemental cry, a more visceral shout beyond my years and understanding. It drove my fingers back to the lid, unscrewing, regretting, trembling, undoing frantically. The shouts and stomach wouldn’t cease the turbulence until the wings rose once again, high into the sky and beyond my beady eyes. And as they disappeared beyond my world, my soul rose too.
I was a kid then, learning young what suffering and imminent death looked like for my whim, for a suggestion from someone else for a hobby. I learnt and I learnt hard. About myself, the impact of a thoughtless action and my perception of the person who had suggested it.
These days, I look at the world and I see versions of death everywhere. On screen and in sound, in games and books, there is replay after replay. I hear violence thrown around in speech and play-acting and I can’t help but wonder. I can’t help but wonder what becomes of us when we bypass that very base emotion of survival for all living things, when we make light of the beauty around us, if we never see a butterfly suffer and release it. What happens when screaming and shouting becomes normalised and fear a friend? Where do we go from there?
* * *
I walked through the park today and tried to remember that, a week ago, this city was in a very different space. I looked at the leaves and the gulls, the water and the trees. I felt the breeze and the sun and I was grateful. Grateful for the souls I know who want to break free, grateful for those who want to shout beauty over ugliness, love over hatred, knowing over ignorance. And it is my most sincere wish that everyone this week finds the space and grace to see what surrounds us each day, hugs us each night, if only we would let it. My wish is, for just this week, don’t bow to the anger, don’t give in to the stresses that we are taught to expect. The world is such a beautiful place and it would serve us better to keep our eyes peeled for fragile rainbow wings that dart in and out of our viewpoint to remind us of just that.