Lessons from the butterfly sessions

“Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”   -Nathaniel Hawthorne

When I was planning for a family vacation to the greater Phoenix area of Arizona, one of the activities on the list was Butterfly Wonderland. I knew this would be a hard sell to the rest of my family, with so many other fun things to do. As luck would have it, though, the stars aligned and on our last day, we headed over to see the butterflies. 

I’m not sure what I expected, a bunch of butterflies, I suppose. But Americans do a really good job with these kind of park attractions. Maybe taking a page from the Disney playbook. First was a 3D movie showing the migration of the Monarch butterfly. Now that is an amazing journey. While it was only touched on briefly in the film, habitat loss and climate change threaten the Monarch. (Read more in this WWF synopsis.)

Then the chrysalis room where various different types and stages of metamorphosis are in progress. Everything was being shown in real-time. At this point in my life, I strongly identify with the idea of changing from one kind of person to another. I could have stayed to watch for much longer, but this was a staging area for the main event. 

Finally the large conservatory. Before going in there was a briefing. Be careful not to step on the butterflies, as they might land on the warm pathway. Don’t touch them, but they can land on you. Before you leave there is a full check for any stowaways! Then, just have fun!

It is hard to explain what it is like to have butterflies land on your body. Maybe your head, clothes, bare arms, even your face. You feel like something very special is happening, they have selected you! Well, not really. I’m sure it is completely random. After all those years of trying to get even a photo of one in the garden, let alone have one casually hang out on your person!

It was a special experience. Makes me want to plant only butterfly approved flowers from now on. Why have any other kind? Maybe if my garden plants were carefully selected, a butterfly will land on me again. I would like that.

The colours are a riot. All different combinations and variations and shades. It was like a colouring box of crayons, very inspiring. I would say the lightness of their random flight was impressive too. They meander along, without a sound. 

Butterflies are smart. They thrive in warmth and humidity. Another reason I like them. They know how to pick a nice climate to live in. Maybe I need to pick places on the earth where there are lots of butterflies as my home. I could get used to that.

My son turned out to be a butterfly whisperer. They really liked him. Of course he happened to pick the right colour of shirt to attract butterflies. But, all the same, he thought it was on elf the best days of the trip.

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