Birds and Butterflies
Today, I did the first adult thing I’ve done in a while. I signed my lease for my first house since college. Unlike my peers in undergrad, I lived on campus all four years. Free room and board are one of the financial incentives for working as a community advisor. When I graduated college, I moved back home with my parents. I needed to figure out where I was headed next and had no money to do this with. I returned to my nest and settled in with my already developed wings.
If I were a butterfly, I’d still be in my cocoon as liquid mush. I’d be an undeveloped liquefied version of myself. Instead, I’m more like a bird. Sometimes. With my downy mask as cushion for my self-made rut, I took a job that paid my “bills.” My parents have spoiled me the entirety of my life. They’ve bailed me out when they shouldn’t have and they’ve been there for me when they certainly didn’t need to be. It’s been largely out of love and the desire for me to have what they believe I deserve. Most of our parents think this way, in some fashion. It’s how they act upon it that’s critical.
Some parents don’t want us to leave their nests. They smother us with their constant hovering and need to overprotect us from life’s harsh realities. We’re flightless birds in a downy world when not given the chance to fall. My parents aren’t overly concerned, so I’ve been able to make my fair share of mistakes. They’ve provided more than their fair share of support and patience, which I’ll probably never fully repay. That doesn’t mean I won’t try, thus my transformation.
As to why I’m a butterfly in this moment and not a bird: This latest transition is much less severe than a bird’s first flight. Although the personal importance merits this same level of natural drama, I prefer the mariposa metaphor instead. It’s prettier and more tactically fitting in my mind. My muse, who also happens to be my roommate, signed the lease with me today. She also mentioned the migratory patterns of these creatures, thus their mental pertinence over previously flocked to avian analogies.
She mentioned the movements of monarchs and their unchanged journeys, even after millennia. Their flight paths must be genetically encoded to remember key details, such as fallen mountains from ages past (Inglis-Arkell). Apparently, they merely divert westwards around where the land form used to be, despite its current nonexistence. I like to think of myself this way, following the patterns of those independent fliers before me, pioneering a path predetermined, yet-still-changing.
I could go another way with this, of course. I could talk about the problems of never changing course and the inherent boredom which accentuates this in-the-box thinking. When it’s programming over prerogative, you need another comparison. Birds might be a better fit, then. I’m still sticking with the butterflies because of their beautiful struggle. I’ll take blobby, amorphous me who’s still herself–forming and yet to emerge–before a flightless tragedy with clipped possibilities. I’ll continue to regally champion my inner growth like a true monarch.
“Monarch Butterfly Migration And Overwintering”. US Forest Services, 2019, https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/Monarch_Butterfly/migration/index.shtml.
Inglis-Arkell, Esther. “Butterflies Remember A Mountain That Hasn’t Existed For Millennia”. Io9.Gizmodo.Com, 2013, https://io9.gizmodo.com/butterflies-remember-a-mountain-that-hasnt-existed-for-509321799. Accessed 19 Feb 2019.